The Thomas B. Fordham Institute Presents:

2008 Education Olympics

About the Education Olympics

The Games in Review

This year’s Education Olympics have come to an end, but for the United States the bitter taste of near-total defeat lingers.

Though the Americans topped the world rankings on the CivEd civic skills exam, thus winning their only gold medal of the competition, our final report shows that they have a lot of work to do in every other area of international academic competition.

Covering the the PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS, and CivEd exams, this volume of results, rankings, and analysis provides a ready resource of all the recent international comparative data in one spot—and 47 pages of motivation for a stronger American showing when the Education Olympians reconvene in London in 2012.

Download it for free here.

We got one!

August 22, 2008--The United States will now be slightly less humiliated on the world stage, as the Americans won a gold medal today in the CivEd Civic Skills event, which measures the abilities of a country’s students to distinguish fact from opinion, interpret political cartoons, and comprehend political messages. Team USA also had a relatively strong showing in the overall civic knowledge competition, finishing fifth. Why the sudden leap in the international standings? Eric McLuhan, son of the late media theorist Marshall McLuhan, hypothesized that the disparity between the Americans’ performance in civics and core subjects like reading, math, and science could be attributed to the popularity in the United States of 24-hour cable news channels, whose content predominately concerns American politics. He also pointed out that these channels are on television, while exercises in reading, math, and science typically take place between the covers of a book.

Interestingly, Poland also took home its first medals of the 2008 games in the civics events, as did Cyprus and Greece. Turkey may want to watch out.

Finally, it came down to the wire, but Finland was ultimately able to edge out Hong Kong for the top overall medal count, putting up 35 to Hong Kong’s 33. Singapore finished a distant third with 16 medals; South Korea and Japan both finished with 15. 

Education Olympics Today - Final Day - August 22, 2008

They waited until the last second, but the Americans finally won a medal in this year’s games—and a gold, no less. Pandemonium ensued on the set of Education Olympics Today.

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Education Olympics Medal Count
Country Medals
United States 1
Finland 35
Hong Kong 33
Singapore 16
Japan 15
Republic of Korea (South Korea) 15
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) 12
New Zealand 11
Canada 8
Estonia 8
Total medals awarded: 190
Complete rankings
Olympics Medal Count
Country Medals
United States 110
China* 100
Russian Federation 72
United Kingdom 47
Australia 46
Germany 41
France 40
Republic of Korea (South Korea) 31
Italy 28
Ukraine* 27
Total medals awarded: 818
Complete rankings
* Is not competing in the 2008 Education Olympics

All Countries

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