The PISA test, an international test given all over the world has shown both China and Finland way ahead of the United States in math, reading and science. This test is taken by 15 years in industrialized nations internationally and test results were revealed in the International Student Assessment Report. Now that the test results are out, educators are evaluating what this information reveals about the American school system as compared to other countries.
According to the Washington Post, the PISA tests were given to students by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 65 nations and educational systems. However, the test results weren’t the only interesting conclusions that were revealed in this test. In fact, the research showed that countries that had accessible education to all students were the best overall in education. This fact was contrasted with results that showed China doing the best or better than the United States on the tests, even though the test was given mainly to students in Shanghai from excellent educational backgrounds. The test results in the United States, however, were not as selective or limited to such a specialized group of students.
Another interesting conclusion from this international test shows that students from higher socio-economic status do better than those who are less privileged. However, poorer students who go to schools with more affluent school mates do much better. Further, this test shows that poor students tend to be put on lower tracks, further widening the gap between haves and have nots. These facts support the idea that economic integration is a good idea for the American education system.
There are other facts from the results that we can learn from. For example, schools with more local autonomy did better than those nationally or state controlled. Further, the charter/voucher system doesn’t seem to create much more advantage when it comes to testing higher on these tests. In addition, private schools don’t seem to give students more advantage when wealth is considered out of the equation.
These results seem to support much of the conclusions presented in the film, “Waiting for Superman.” A lot of news focus has been on how we lag behind China and how we need to “catch up.” Rather than just trying to achieve better test scores, the United States can look at the conditions that make these scores higher and try to improve the educational system. A lot of news focus has been on how we lag behind China and how we need to “catch up.”