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Allegations about the low performance of U.S. students compared to their counterparts in other nations repeatedly surface in the media. For example, in a recent sur­vey by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achieve­ment (IEA), the U.S. ranked 15th in science in a field of 17 nations. This low showing internationally is now accepted by policy makers and repeated as part of the conventional wisdom. Business lead­ers point with alarm to the declining skills of the labor force and proclaim that the U.S. economy will lose out to Asian and European competitors. There may...