One of my great concerns for this country’s future is the underperformance of our youth when it comes to achievement in math and science. In December 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the results of its 2009 Program for International Assessment (PISA) test, administered to thousands of 15-year-old students in 65 different countries around the world. The results were not good for the United States. In science, the U.S. ranked 23rd with a score of 502, well below Shanghai, China (575), Finland (554), Hong Kong, China (549), Singapore (542), Japan (539), Korea (538), and New Zealand (532), and just one point above the average score on this subject area of 501.
In math, the U.S. fared even worse, ranking 32rd on the PISA test with a score of 487. This score was 10 points below the average score (497) of the 65 participating countries. Number 1 was again Shanghai, China with a score of 600, followed by Singapore (562), Hong Kong, China (555), Korea (546), Taiwan (543), and Finland (541).
These results underscore the fact that we must find new approaches to educating our youth in math and science — the current approaches are clearly broken.
Regular readers know what’s coming next (one has to be persistent about these things). But keep in mind that this is coming from someone whose heart is in the right place. But so many people who discuss education still don’t understand what the PISA results mean for the U.S.
As I’ve described before, the brutal reality is that U.S. schools that contain more than 25% poor children do abysmally–they are literally pulling the scores down:
But data available now tells us that poverty, as usual, had a huge impact on PISA reading test scores for American students. American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD country. Those in schools with 10 to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.
In contrast, American students in schools with 75% of more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.
We might not be living in a nation where one-third of a nation is ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. It’s only one in five, give or take. Improvement, I suppose.
I’ve made this point ad nauseum, but I’ll make it again, since education ‘reformers’, like creationists, are refractory to evidence. Until we get serious about reducing poverty, as well as breaking up large geographic concentrations of poverty, our average test scores will be poor.
More details are described here.
Until we accurately define the educational ‘crisis’, we will keep devising silly solutions like value added testing.
Should this be called ‘edu-woo’?