Students in Massachusetts are doing great while their peers in Alabama and D.C. are languishing.

It's so common to see studies about the United States's lackluster academic performance compared to other countries, it's barely newsworthy anymore. The American education system, the story goes, is mediocre. A new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics complicates that picture a bit. It attempts to rank how individual states compare internationally, and shows a wide gap between the highest-performing states and the lowest: Massachusetts does quite well against other countries, while Mississippi, Alabama, and the District of Columbia do poorly.

The report evaluates 2011 math and science scores from two sources: the National Assessment of Educational Process, which was administered to eighth graders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools; and from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which evaluated eighth graders in 38 different countries and 9 "subnational entities" (for example, Quebec and Dubai).

Only some states took the TIMMS to create the U.S. score, so for the U.S. states that did not take the TIMSS in 2011, the report used NAEP scores to predict the what the state’s TIMSS scores would have been. The researchers then used these predictions to rank the states against the other educational systems tested by TIMSS.

The average TIMSS score is a 500, and the test uses four benchmarks—low, intermediate, high, and advanced—to describe student scores. In math, two-thirds of U.S. states scored above the TIMSS average.

In science, 47 states scored above the TIMMS average:

Massachusetts and Vermont outperformed 43 educational systems, while the District of Columbia ranked above only 14 educational systems. Singapore was the only education system to outrank all U.S. states.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How to Inspire Girls to Become Carpenters and Electricians

    Male-dominated trades like construction, plumbing, and welding can offer job security and decent pay. A camp aims to show girls these careers are for them, too.

  2. People eat and drink coffee inside a small coffeehouse.
    Life

    Gentrification Is Hurting Kuala Lumpur's Iconic Coffee Shops

    Traditional kopitiams, which serve sweetened coffee in no-frills surroundings, are a part of Malaysian national identity, but their survival is precarious.

  3. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  4. Transportation

    Electric Scooters Aren’t a Transportation Revolution Yet

    New data show a staggering rise in shared dockless e-scooter use nationwide. But commuting habits have seen little change since the dawn of micromobility.

  5. A map of Baltimore and its surrounding leafy suburbs.
    Environment

    Every Tree in the City, Mapped

    Researchers at Descartes Labs are using artificial intelligence to make a better map of the urban tree canopy.