Surveys show about 90 percent of international students believe classes are easier in the United States than at home.
That singular statistic helps explain why international student achievement tests in math, science and reading show students in the United States are learning less in school than their peers in dozens of other countries.
In the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test of 15-year-olds worldwide, students from the United States ranked 30th of the 56 participating nations in mathematics, 23rd in science and 20th in reading.
Privileged children from affluent U.S. schools fared little better. A typical student in Beverly Hills did worse on the PISA test than the average of all students in Canada. And economically disadvantaged students here did worse, often far worse, than poor kids in many other countries.