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### Reforming US Education System: A Necessity or Luxury?

Recent findings from the global assessment test, PISA, indicate a concerning trend with math scores reaching an all-time low among U.S. students. This decline is part of a continuous downward trajectory in both math and reading achievements. While the U.S.’s relative position in math achievement for 15-year-olds compared to other nations remains unchanged, there is a noticeable erosion not only in scores but also in various measures of achievement.

This downward trend is not a novel revelation, as many scholars and commentators have previously highlighted. The focus now should shift towards establishing criteria that can catalyze a fundamental reform in the American education system. It is imperative to set a solid “floor” to signify that mere adjustments within the existing framework are ineffective and may, in fact, exacerbate the situation.

Considering the pivotal role of education in shaping individual opportunities, it becomes crucial to redefine the standards for student proficiency in math and reading. When a significant portion of students fail to meet these proficiency levels, especially given the substantial per-pupil expenditures in the U.S., it should serve as a clear indication of systemic issues that need urgent attention.

Examining the data pre-pandemic reveals alarming statistics from “The Nation’s Report Card.” In 2019, only 40% of 4th-grade students and a mere 33% of 8th-grade students demonstrated proficiency in math. Similarly, in reading, the proficiency levels stood at 34% for 4th graders and 32% for 8th graders. These numbers further deteriorated in 2022, with math proficiency dropping to 35% for 4th graders and a startling 26% for 8th graders. Reading proficiency also saw a decline, with only 32% of 4th graders and 29% of 8th graders meeting the standards.

The overwhelming evidence underscores the failure of the American education system to adequately support students in achieving basic proficiency levels. Rather than persisting with ineffective approaches, there is an urgent need for a national dialogue on comprehensive education reform. Seeking innovative solutions and insights from successful education systems, such as those in Western Europe and Asia, could provide valuable guidance for improving educational outcomes in the U.S.