These facts about science and math education in America, the Soviet Union, East Germany, the People's Republic of China, and Japan were assembled by the National Academy of Sciences:
* The school year abroad averages 240 days: minimal time is lost to absences. Ours averages 180 days with a loss of one month on the average due to absences. Their school week is 5.5 or six days and includes a six to eight hour school day; we have a five day week and an average school day of four to five hours.
* Specially trained science and mathematics teachers take over in grade four abroad, not until grade seven in our schools.
* Courses in mathematics (other than arithmetic or general math), biology, chemistry, physics, and geography start in grade six and are required of all students.
* The time spent on these subjects, based on class hours, is about three times that of even the most science-oriented U.S. students, i.e., those that select four years of science and mathematics in secondary school.
* Other subjects are not slighted at the expense of science and mathematics. Language study is encouraged, partly to make contact with scientific and technology information in other languages. More students and adults are learning English in China than there are English-speaking people in the U.S.
In addition, the Soviet Union has just instituted a reform of its school system which makes it the most advanced in the world, according to the National Science Foundation. The number of high school students taking calculus each year in the Soviet Union has reached 5 million. For the United States the comparable number in 1977 was 105,000. In addition to two years of calculus, all youngsters in the Soviet Union are required to complete 5 years of physics, four years of chemistry, four years of biology and five years of algebra.