Pisa in the News

Creative Problem Solving

U.S. Students Strong at Problem Solving, but Trail Other Nations New York Times

And The World’s Best Problem Solvers Are… Huffington Post

PISA Day News Coverage

US Teens Lag in Global Education Rankings as Asian Countries Rise to the Top NBC News

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Students in the United States made scant headway on recent global achievement exams and slipped deeper in the international rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad, according to test results released Tuesday.American teens scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science and reading, compared against dozens of other countries that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which was administered last fall.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan characterized the flat scores as a “picture of educational stagnation.” “We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators,” Duncan said.

PISA Results Show ‘Educational Stagnation’ in US Politico
U.S. students continue to perform poorly on international tests, with 15-year-olds scoring in the middle of the global pack on the latest math, reading and science tests administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

What International Education Rankings Don’t Measure The Nation
Every three years a division of the OECD called the Programme for International Student Assessments, or PISA, tests 15-year-olds around the developed world on math, reading and science. The report’s subsequent publication unfailingly stirs up a frenzy of politicians seeking soundbites, reformers grasping for useful outrages, and reporters scrounging for sensational angles.

PISA sent advance results to a select cadre of organizations, such as the Alliance for Excellent Education, known for championing accountability measures. Writing for Slate, Dana Goldstein notes that a number of the participants in PISA Day happened to also be prominent backers of Common Core academic standards.

Little Progress for US in International Education Benchmarks Governing
The United States’ academic standing in newly released international exams has remained middling at best, prompting heated debate about what is to blame and how to fix the problem.

ACT Linking Study Provides Guidance on International Benchmarks of US College and Career Readiness District Administration
The latest PISA test results confirm that 15-year-old students in the U.S. still have significant strides to make to catch up with their peers in other economically advanced countries. Average scores for U.S. students on both math and reading PISA assessments remained virtually unchanged.

To help guide states and policymakers in determining if students who meet college readiness benchmarks are competitive on an international level, ACT conducted a linking analysis to gauge how college readiness benchmark scores on its own assessment for 10th graders, ACT Plan, stack up against PISA scores.

American Students Fall in International Academic Tests, Chinese Lead the Pack US News & World Report
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday morning that despite incremental progress in certain aspects of education, the United States’ results on the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment are mediocre.

“The big picture of U.S. performance on the 2012 PISA is straightforward and stark. It is the picture of educational stagnation,” Duncan said. “The brutal truth, that urgent reality, must serve as a wakeup call against educational complacency and low expectations.

News and Updates on PISA

December 2, 2013: Sputnik moment looms in Australian education (Sydney Morning Herald) Australia’s results in the last round of the OECD’s PISA tests were the prompt for former prime minister Julia Gillard to take the unusual step of introducing legislation to enshrine an aspiration: that Australia will be among the top five performing countries in reading, maths and science by 2025. Australia is not alone in its sensitivity to the international testing regime. President Obama declared to his fellow Americans that the relatively poor international ranking of the USA’s school education was “our generation’s Sputnik moment”.

December 1, 2013: Don’t let dubious Pisa league tables dictate how we educate our children (The Guardian) Once again Britain has done badly in the international assessment of schooling. But there is more to learning than this: The triennial results from the Programme for International Assessment (Pisa), due on Tuesday but trailed in the Sunday press, have become education’s equivalent of the football World Cup. And the performance of the British teams is just as mediocre, giving more leverage to politicians determined to get a few easy cheers from slagging off teachers.

November 29, 2013: Excellence in education the aim of PISA, test’s developer says (Sydney Morning Herald) Andreas Schleicher, deputy director of education with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, spent five years developing PISA as a global testing system and launched it in 2000 when 260,000 students took part. He says the PISA tests do not measure students’ knowledge of science and maths, or how well they are able to read, but whether they can apply that knowledge and skill in novel circumstances.

November 29, 2013: Andreas Schleicher and the PISA Phenomenon (Sydney Morning Herald) When Andreas Schleicher was 10 years old, his primary school teacher told his father the boy lacked the ability to go on to an academic secondary school – one of Germany’s elite “gymnasiums”. His father promptly removed Andreas from the teacher’s class and sent him to a Steiner School in Hamburg, where years later he obtained the highest mark possible in the nation’s college entrance examinations.

November 26, 2013: How Pisa became the world’s most important exam (BBC) “Your education today is your economy tomorrow,” says Andreas Schleicher from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, who has become one of the world’s most influential figures in education. And next week, the state of today’s education standards across the developed world will be revealed with the publication of the results of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, better known as the “Pisa tests”.

November 25, 2013: The OECD’s Pisa delivery man. (The Guardian) It’s normally parents, teachers and pupils who anxiously await exam results. But now it’s the turn of education ministers to bite their nails. The man marking the papers is Andreas Schleicher, an intense, white-haired, 49-year-old German, who speaks perfect English at bewildering speed. At the OECD, where he is special adviser on education policy, he invented and still runs the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), as the international testing of 15-year-olds is called. 

November 20, 2013: A debate: What do international test scores tell us? Marc Tucker of the National Center of Education and the Economy takes issue with a recent Washington Post column about PISA Day.

Mapping the Nation is a new interactive map that pulls together demographic, economic, and education scores and indicators to show that the United States is a truly global nation

November 18, 2013: Mapping the Nation is a new interactive map that pulls together demographic, economic, and education indicators—nearly one million data points—to show that the United States is a truly global nation. Yet, the data also tells a cautionary tale: whereas nearly every county in the United States has ties to the world outside our borders, schools have not been able to keep pace by providing students with the needed knowledge and skills for success in the interconnected world.

November 13, 2013: Ten National Education Organizations to Host Digital Event on Latest PISA Results: On December 3, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will release the latest scores and 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. In conjunction with the release of the PISA scores and the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement of the U.S. results, the Alliance for Excellent Education, along with nine national education organizations, will host an extensive digital event that examines the results and their lessons for U.S. education policy.

Recent Articles and Reports on International Assessment and Education

A report from the Stanford Center for Opportunity in Education by David Conley and Linda Darling-Hammond

November 18, 2013: Creating Systems of Assessment for Deeper Learning:
As education in the United States shifts to emphasize the deeper learning approaches of the Common Core State Standards, states are evaluating how to move to new systems of assessment that can measure these more complex and comprehensive goals. The report authored by David Conley and Linda Darling-Hammond — Creating Systems of Assessment for Deeper Learning — describes how state policymakers and education leaders can strategically design assessment and accountability systems in ways that support learning for students, educators, and systems, alike. Drawing on research and successful practices in the United States and abroad, the report offers a blueprint for new systems of assessment that are able to support the development of deeper learning skills, to generate instructionally useful diagnostic information, and to provide insights about a wider range of student capacities that are actionable by students and inform parents, colleges, employers, and policymakers.

November 2, 2013: The Economist: Fixing Sweden’s Schools. A new study from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) will land on the desks of policymakers around the world next month. It will make sobering reading for political leaders in many countries. In Sweden Jan Bjorklund, the education minister, is prepared for poor marks too.

November 5, 2013: INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT: U.S. Adults Rank Below International Averages in Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem-solving Skills, According to New OECD Survey. Adults in the United States rank in a tie for fifteenth out of twenty-three countries in literacy, twenty-first in numeracy, and tied for seventeenth in problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to other developed nations in the first Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey of Adult Skills. The new survey, also known as the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), measures the skill levels of sixteen- to sixty-five-year-olds.

Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard? (ACT) To help guide states and policymakers in in determining if students who meet college and career readiness benchmarks are competitive on an international landscape, ACT conducted a linking analysis to determine how benchmark scores on its own 10th grade assessment – administered to 2,248 students from 77 high school across the U.S. in 2009-10 – stacked up against PISA scores. The study Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard?, is the first and only of its kind to compare benchmark scores for college and career readiness on a national U.S. assessment with PISA scores. It was conducted with support and guidance from both the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the National Center for Education Statistics. Based on the results from this administration of PISA 2009, ACT determined that U.S. benchmarks for college and career readiness in reading and mathematics are internationally competitive, and well within the range of the highest performing OECD countries.