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So you think you are smarter than an Indian 10th grader? Take this test!

September 18, 2009 15:56 IST

Do you know the value of (1 + cot A - cosec A) (1 + tan A + sec A)?  If you do know the answer to this trigonometric puzzler, you can remotely claim to know your tenth grade math well.

Chances are that quite a few American kids at the same level may find themselves in a spot over solving the above query.

American students' academic achievement has been declining vis-a-vis other developed countries for more than 20 years, feels Bob Compton, executive producer of Two Million Minutes -- a documentary that highlights the slipping competitive edge of America in comparison to India and China.

Having screened his film at cities across America, Compton realised that a large segment of the American population believed that India and China's primary and secondary education systems were inferior to theirs. 'I have screened my film around the country and a surprisingly large segment of the American population believes India and China's K-12 education systems are inferior to that of the United States. While no American makes the statement with the boundless hubris of a Harvard professor, the conclusion often is the same -- America is number one in education and always will be,' Compton writes.

However, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had on August 18 outlined that American students were treading the waters of academic achievement while other countries' students were swimming faster and farther.

'In math, our 15-year-olds' scores now lag behind those of 31 countries. In science, our eighth graders' scores now lag behind their peers in eight countries that had also participated in the original assessment. In reading, five countries have improved their performance and surpassed our 4th graders. These results show that for us to stay competitive and move forward, we have to get our students ready for global competition.

'Will America's children be able to create new technologies, invent new products and found the new companies that will produce the quality jobs of the 21st century? What is the evidence? That we blithely ignore the declining intellectual standards of American students seems almost insane?' asks Compton.

So, to test the standard of American students, Compton's company Indian Math Online created the 'Third World Challenge' -- a shortened and greatly simplified version of the multi-day proficiency test that every 10th grader in India must pass to go on to the 11th grade.

Newton 'Newt' Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Alfred Charles Sharpton, Jr, civil rights leader and radio talk show host, are supporting Compton's initiative that seeks to make Americans sit up and take notice of the rapid strides that India and China have made in terms of educational reforms. 'As I have traveled and spoken to various campus, trade associations, community groups, and organizations across the country, I have recommended that everyone should go to and attempt to pass a tenth-grade mathematics test in India,' Gingrich wrote on the Enterprise Blog

So you think you are smarter than an Indian 10th grader? Take this test to find out!

The Rediff News Bureau