Monday, January 27, 2014

PISA: At Least We Beat Argentina

It seems to be time to return to that old time theme: why does American education suck?

The current items in evidence are the 2012 scores in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), in particular, the mathematical literacy assessment. Tyler Cowen notes that even our rich kids are below average:

The data was provided to The WorldPost by Pablo Zoido, an analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the group behind PISA. It shows that students’ wealth does not necessarily make them more competitive on an international scale. In the United States, for example, the poorest kids scored around a 433 out of 700 on the math portion of PISA, while the wealthiest ones netted about a 547. The lower score comes in just below the OECD average for the bottom decile (436), but the higher score also comes in below the OECD average for the top decile (554).

“At the top of the distribution, our performance is surprisingly bad given our top decile is among the wealthiest in the world,” said Morgan Polikoff, a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Education who reviewed the data.

The data also makes for some jarring comparisons: Canada’s fourth decile performs as well as Chile’s top socioeconomic tier. Taiwan’s bottom sliver performs about as well as Montenegro’s wealthiest 10 percent. Vietnam’s bottom 10 percent slightly eclipses Peru’s top 10 percent. And the poorest kids in Poland perform about on par with Americans in the fourth decile.

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Josh Marshall gets into the act here.