"This is the twelfth edition of the Brown Center Report. The structure of the report remains the same from year to year. Part I examines the latest data from state, national, or international assessments. This year the focus is on the latest results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) released in December, 2012. The U.S. did relatively well, posting gains in reading, math, and science...Part II explores a perennial theme in education studies—the topics that never seem to go away in terms of research and debate. This year it’s on the controversial topics of tracking and ability grouping...Part III is on a prominent policy or program. This year’s analysis is on the national push for eighth graders to take algebra and other high school math courses. Algebra is now the single most popular math course in eighth grade."