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The 2009 PISA Results Are In – Learn More During Today’s Webinar

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December 07, 2010 05:38 pm


Released this morning, the results of the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that American fifteen-year-olds rank 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics among the 34 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Today, from 2:00–4:00 p.m., EST, the Alliance for Excellent Education, Asia Society, Committee for Economic Development, Council of Chief State School Officers, and National Governors Association Center for Best Practices are cohosting a live webcast featuring Andreas Schleicher, head of the indicators and analysis division for OECD’s Directorate of Education. During the webcast, Mr. Schleicher will review the 2009 PISA results in reading, math, and science. Following Mr. Schleicher’s presentation, a panel of business, state, and national education leaders will examine the implications for state and federal education policy and what the U.S. can do to develop a world-class education system for all of its students. Register and submit questions for the December 7 webcast online.

The results were widely covered in the media with The New York Times focusing on Shanghai’s impressive results, writing “With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science.” This graph, also from the Times illustrates just how well Shanghai students performed and how far students in other industrialized nations have to go. Education Week concentrated on US student performance and quoted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as saying, “The PISA results, to be brutally honest, show that a host of developed nations are outeducating us. Americans need to wake up to this educational reality.” With regard to the gains in science, he said: “I don’t think that’s much to celebrate. … Being average in science is a mantle of mediocrity.” And the Wall Street Journal provided some examples of the types of questions asked on the assessment. Take this one from the 2006 PISA science section:

Mei-Ling from Singapore was preparing to go to South Africa for 3 months as an exchange student. She needed to change some Singapore dollars (SGD) into South African rand (ZAR).

On returning to Singapore after 3 months, Mei-Ling had 3,900 ZAR left. She changed this back to Singapore dollars, noting that the exchange rate had changed to:

1 SGD = 4.0 ZAR

How much money in Singapore dollars did Mei-Ling get?

(Answer: 975)

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance and former governor of West Virginia, released the following statement in response to the results:

“In what has become the Olympics of academic performance, these international test results show that U.S. students’ performance is improving, but we are still a long way from being an educational Olympic-medal winner.

“The positive news is that the United States has stopped dropping in the international rankings, and there has even been some improvement in the mean scores in all three subjects since the last assessment, with significant gains in science. Most positively, approximately 25 percent of low-income students tested in the top quartile, showing that with the right support, every child can learn at a high level.

“In this ongoing educational Olympics, U.S. training has somewhat improved, but many of our competitors are still streaking by us to the medal ceremony. Hopefully the adoption of common core state standards, as well as the reforms underway in many states, will move the U.S. much further up the rankings in 2013.”

International Comparisons

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