Looking at the PISA Results – And Much More
On December 3, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will release the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test of reading literacy, mathematics, and science given every three years to fifteen-year-olds in the United States and more than sixty-five countries worldwide.
While many will focus on the rankings alone, the Alliance for Excellent Education and its partners want to look deeper into the results. What lessons can high-performing nations learn from each other? What are the implications for standards and assessments in the United States? How can assessments be used to improve teaching and learning? What can the PISA results tell us about how schools can continue to improve to ensure all students are graduating from high school ready for college and career?
Why Does PISA Matter?
Because a high ranking on PISA correlates to economic success, researchers have concluded that PISA is one indicator of whether school systems are preparing students for the global knowledge economy of the 21st century.
High-paying jobs and high-profit industries require workers who can think critically, connect ideas, and work across international borders. Rich countries no longer require a large workforce to perform menial tasks, but school systems have traditionally been slow and difficult to change.
The PISA data, collected every three years, is useful on several levels. It reveals common patterns among high performing school systems. Likewise, the data also shows that school systems with the greatest improvement have used common tactics at different points in the reform process. Perhaps the most encouraging trend is that school turnaround can happen quite quickly: successful reforms have takes ten or fewer years in some countries.