Published in San Jose Mercury News (November 16).
Is it true that "U.S. lags other wealthy nations in higher math" (Page B1, Nov. 11)?
Studies show that middle-class American children attending well-funded schools score near the top of the world in math. American average scores are unspectacular because a high percentage of American school children live in poverty (20 percent; Sweden has 3 percent).
Also, some countries inflate their scores by excluding many children of poverty from taking the test. This does not happen in the United States.
Finally, the Stanford study only considered the percentage, not the number of students reaching the top level. Several countries that did better than the United States have small populations (e.g., Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland). The United States had 25 percent of the world's top achievers on the 2009 PISA science test. China had 1 percent.