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.

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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

Key PISA Findings For 2012 - by OECD
The most recent PISA results, from 2012, direct from OECD. Contains some indepth reports and profiles of specific countries. From here you can also access enlightening indepth reports in PDF format. (Views So Far 291 )

Key PISA test results for U.S. students (2012 Summary) - by VALERIE STRAUSS
Summary of the key findings for the USA on PISA scores. A good way of getting a handle on the data in smaller bites. (Views So Far 318 )

NEA Weights In: What Do the 2012 PISA Scores Tell Us About U.S. Schools? - by NEA
The NEA weighs in on what they think the meaning of the 2012 PISA scores are. Bear in mind that the NEA, as is the case with many organizations, has its own biases. (Views So Far 284 )

PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful? - by OECD
PISA isn't just about national rankings. In this incredible indepth report, weighing in at 500+ pages, the data is presented and analysed, and the OECD presents its findings on what makes schools successful. A virtual goldmine. (Views So Far 310 )

PISA Main Site From OECD - Good Starting Point - by OECD
This is the OECD's main site for PISA information. A good starting point about the program, and from here you can find the latest reports, data, and interesting interpretations of the results. (Views So Far 334 )

PISA Results: Canada Students High-Level Achievers But Math, Science Scores Dip - by Lauren La Rose
PISA scores in a Canadian context. (Views So Far 363 )

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