PISA - What Do The Scores Actually Mean?

Every three years, the OECD conducts an indepth study of the reading, science and mathematics skills of over sixty countries, and ranks them relative to each other. In addition to testing students (they test fifteen year olds), they also collect information from school principals to help in making sense of the results.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) always generates a lot of controversy. The release of findings generates heated discussion about the value of comparing countries, and even whether the scores from various countries are even meaningful. In the USA, where per capita spending is among the highest in the world, the rankings, in which the USA usually ranks lower than much less wealthy countries, stimulates a lot of analysis and conclusions, ranging from excuses "We have a much more diverse population", to panic "Why are we failing", to more constructive thinking "What can we do to 'catch up'.

But what to the scores actually mean? What are the implications for national education policies? Do they mean anything at all?

The answers aren't simple, and often it depends on one's own existing bias, but they are worth considering if we are to do the best for our children.

In this section, we've presented some of the better interpretations of the results, and also the meaning of those results and their implications for education.

Top : PISA-What Do The National Education Scores Really Mean :

Every three years the OECD conducts the PISA assessments, comparing national success on science, reading and maths. But what do the scores really mean? What are the criticisms? What do these assessments say about how to improve our schools?

Findings, Analysis, And Interpreting The PISA Results

PISA-What Do The National Education Scores Really Mean

'Wake-up call': American Reactions To The 2009 Scores - by CHRISTINE ARMARIO
Americans and President Obama react to the finding that the USA trails countries, much poorer countries, in student scores in math, science and reading. (Views So Far 329 )

Are PISA scores really that important? - by Jeremy Fox
"Do PISA scores matter?" was the introductory topic on BBC's December 5 edition of Question Time. All three politicians on the panel concurred that they do, along with that self-important purveyor of prejudice Nick Ferrari (formerly of Fox News, deviser of Topless Darts and the News Bunny - you get the picture). Professor Mary Beard, sole educator on the panel, found herself alone in questioning the validity of PISA scores; but though she was clearly the most knowledgeable of those present, she was also the least articulate, possibly because she was less accustomed than her fellow-panelists to the soundbite world of instant opinion. Even though her intervention may have lacked impact, however, its thoughtfulness provoked me to dig a little deeper into international educational comparisons. (Views So Far 320 )

Critique On The Usefulness of PISA Scores - by ANDREW CAMPBELL
There is a growing body of academic evidence that PISA test scores aren't accurate reflections of student learning. Cambridge statistician David Spiegelhalter expressed "...fairly serious concerns..." about PISA's 2012 testing methods and data analysis, while University of Copenhagen's Svend Kreiner calls PISA results "useless". Prof. Kreiner also demonstrated that in PISA's 2006 test, Canada could have placed "anywhere from second place to 25th" using PISA's methodology. Other prominent academic statisticians call PISA results and methods "utterly wrong" and "problematic". (Views So Far 328 )

Education Experts Divided on PISA Scores Showing U.S. Teens' Flat Performance - by Karyn M. Peterson
The reaction of education professionals and other thought leaders to the data has been decidedly mixed. Some stakeholders are beginning to use the findings to champion the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)--which 45 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the Department of Defense have adopted--as the solution to dramatically improving the problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills that U.S. students lack. However, some say the PISA findings actually prove that the emphasis on testing U.S. students in recent years has hindered their learning progress, and therefore should not be the way to move forward with the CCSS and other reforms. Others note, above all, that international comparisons do little to paint an accurate picture of U.S. schools and their varied demographics. For example, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)--which issued a report that explores the PISA data and its methodology and highlights relative NCES findings on specific states--the latest findings show that U.S. education "lags behind" the world. "While we're standing still, other countries are making progress," ... (Views So Far 344 )

How Do High-Performing Nations Evaluate Teachers? | NEA Today - by NEA
Who decides if a teacher is effective and how is that determination made? School systems across the United States are struggling to answer that question as they try to design and implement teacher evaluation systems that are fair and accurate. It's no easy task and is not limited to public schools in this country. School systems around the world are tackling the same issue and are finding consensus among education stakeholders to be elusive. (Views So Far 376 )

How public opinion about new PISA test scores is being manipulated - by Richard Rothstein and Martin Carnoy
Must read for Americans. Essentially a critique of the PISA scores, and that simple analysis will always be misleading. Good for context. (Views So Far 324 )