(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
This serves as a Rorschach test. The usually reliable Robert Samuelson looks at this and says points out that American Anglos are pretty competitive.
Two problems: first from what we can tell from TIMMS, these numbers would probably look worse if we were examining 17 year olds (the U.S. has a large drop in rank between 8th and 12th grade). Second, we are spending far beyond the OECD average on a per pupil basis, especially in the leafy suburbs, so our cost/achievement ratio still probably stinks, even for wealthy White kids.
The real story here is how much closer Hispanics and Blacks in America are to Mexico, the lowest scoring OECD country, than to an internationally competitive level.