SUMMARY: International education tests offer one measure for how countries around the world compare academically. But test scores aside, how do academic approaches differ in America compared to the rest of the world? Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week speaks with foreign students now living in the U.S. about how they see the differences.
JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour): International tests are one way of gauging how American kids are doing in school compared with other countries.
Traditionally, the U.S. performance has been described as mediocre, and this year was no different. The most recent test scores show the U.S. is stagnant in reading and science. In math, our country ranks toward the bottom of developed nations.
What these results tell us about educational priorities around the world is a bit more nuanced.
Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza with our partner Education Week met with international students to ask them first-hand about the differences.
It's part of our weekly series 'Making the Grade.'
KAVITHA CARDOZA, Special correspondent: Calvin Leung loves soccer.
CALVIN LEUNG, Junior, Walt Whitman High School: I started soccer really young. And I just can't stop playing soccer because it's really fun.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Two years ago, Calvin and his family moved to the U.S. because of his father's work. His mother Margaret, says if he was still living in his home country, Hong Kong, just like his former classmates, Calvin would have had to give up soccer.
MARGARET TSANG, Parent from Hong Kong: Calvin's friends in Hong Kong have to give up playing soccer because they have to focus and concentrate in their studying.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: She says there are only a few universities in Hong Kong, so competition is fierce.
MARGARET TSANG: That's why parents (in Hong Kong) would like them to have extra lessons, even after school for almost six hours. So, I think they can balance studying and extracurricular activities here.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Other countries have, at times, wrestled with that lack of balance, and some have even turned to high-performing U.S. schools for lessons in building student skills, such as creativity and collaboration.
But, academically, when Calvin moved here, he found general classes much easier in the U.S.
CALVIN LEUNG: In Hong Kong, math-wise, it's definitely super competitive and everyone, like, move in the same pace. So it's pretty hard to catch up if you fall behind. But, in America, you can choose your own pace.