US students are in school significantly less than other countries

By Finn Thomas

Messenger Staff Writer


In the countries of this world there are a wide variety of education systems. How do these separate systems affect the societies around them and the achievements they make?

Here at Placer, students go to school for 180 days a year, which is also the national average for the United States. The number of days we go to school may seem like a lot of time throughout the year, however, compared to other countries, we are actually attending school at quite a small amount. For example, students in China go to school 260 days average, and Australia, 220 days. This could bring up ideas, such as how these numbers affect the nations and their achievements.

There is a system called NAEP or National Assessment of Educational Progress, in which students around the globe are tested for a comparison to other countries. The most recent was a couple years back, and they tested fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders. Grade four math United States exceeded the international average, however, seven countries had higher scores. Fourth graders in science did much better, only surpassed by two countries. Eighth grades did very poorly in mathematics, scoring below the international average, and in Science, above, but still in the middle of the tested countries. Twelfth graders only surpassed a couple countries, having the rest of the world score higher on the test in the United States for mathematics and science.

“As a teacher it’s troubling how low we rank in terms of a nation, in regards to our education level compared to most countries, It feels like we go to a lot of days of school, it feels like we have high standards of instruction, yet clearly they’re not matching the rest of the world in that high bracket,” stated Brittany Haydon, Placer High School Teacher.

Now, would less vacation time fix this problem? It may not be necessarily less vacation time, but maybe a better system to help students succeed.

“As a teacher I don’t want to see us go to school anymore than we are because I feel like we go more than we ever have, but maybe we need to do more with that instruction,” Haydon continued.

Around this campus, and many others, there are students who do value their education. Although some may think that the system we have now works just fine, others do not.

“Our system really needs improvement. Personally, I think we should focus more on learning and less on grades,” Natasha Buckman, Placer High School student stated.

The vacation time we have for school is valued by most people, we like our time off to recollect ourselves, and rest.

“I don’t want my vacation taken away, and I don’t think that would help much anyway,” Buckman said, concluding that taking away our vacation time would not help the problem of our tests scores not being up to par.

“I feel that breaks are good because I feel it’s good to rejuvenate yourself,” Haydon said.

We may have less breaks and days for school, but when it comes to paid vacation days at work, America has basically none. United States law does not require employers to give time off, and twenty-five percent of employees receive no paid vacation or holidays. However, in many countries in Europe it is different. In 2003, a chart was made showing how much time countries in Europe got in paid vacation. The numbers ranged from the highest, thirty-three, to in the low twenties for other countries. On that specific list, USA had twelve paid vacation days.

“I think if you compare it to vacation time, countries in Europe have two, three weeks more vacation time than Americans. Americans don’t take vacation time compared to most European countries,” stated Haydon.

This could all affect our different lifestyles and societies in all these countries. Does more time off help countries to work harder after they get back, or not? It seems that because America does not have as much time off while working, we excel in many subjects, compared to the rest of the globe. For example, United States has the most nobel prizes out of everyone, in most subjects. In a list made in 2013, the United States had won 344 prizes, and the next closest was in the one-hundreds. Although the amount of these prizes may not show who had the best inventions or discoveries, it does show that this country has many more of these prize worthy individuals who completed something exceptional and worth rewarding.

In conclusion, do the low test scores and lack of school days compared to other countries affect the general achievements of the United States? For right now, not really, but possibly in years to come, other countries who have superior education early on, could come through with many more accomplishments than we could ever imagine.