[Excerpt] Despite similar cultural roots and standards of living, the secondary education systems of France, the Netherlands, England, Scotland and the United States produce remarkably different levels of achievement in mathematics and science. When one examines achievement at a given age. the French and Dutch have learned the most. Americans the least and the British are somewhere in between. In reading ability, however, the students of the five countries are roughly equal. High achievement in France and the Netherlands has not been achieved by pushing slow students out of upper secondary school. The ratios of upper secondary students to the age cohort are as high in France and tbe Netherlands as in the U.S. and far ahead of England and Scotland. What accounts for this pattern?