Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Bigga PISA Pie

The PISA scores are out, and the news isn't good for either France or the USA. Of course the Chinese results reflect only the students of Shanghai, a select group, but other Asian countries, Finland, Switzerland, etc., all overachieve. Anticipate a mini-brouhaha concerning the failure of the schools. But before getting your knickers in a twist, you might do well to re-read Baudelot and Establet, L'Élitisme républicaine, which peers behind the league tables to give a more accurate picture of results like these. The short answer is that if you compare the cream of the French educational system with the students of Shanghai (the cream of China's crop), the results would look rather different. French (and American) schools fail at the bottom of the distribution, not the top. And then there's this paradox: Chinese college graduates can't find jobs, earn little more than less educated workers, and excel on tests but disappoint in the workplace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is no brouhaha. Whereas Scotland (despite being #1 in the UK) is looking at its problems, the UK is up in arms (Labour says that the positive signs came from their policy post-Conservatives, the Conservatives say the problems are Labour's fault -- their brilliant idea: give the same benchmarks as Koreans... although Korean kids routinely go to school from 7 am till 5pm, then 7pm till 11pm, not something I'm sure Brits would readily adopt!) and the US is all "New Sputnik moment".
Most online comments don't judge the system but blame kids and parents, misunderstanding the whole PISA issue.
I am especially struck by the fact "average" French students are now slipping into "insufficient skills" and that 28% (28%!!!!!!) of a student's score come from their socio-economic background, the worst ranking among economically developed countries.