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Education Math Science

New Education Performance Data Published: Asia Dominates 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the we're-too-busy-eating-cheeseburgers-to-do-math dept.
jones_supa writes "The latest PISA (Programme for International Assessment) results are out today. Since 2000, the OECD has attempted to evaluate the knowledge and skills of 15-year olds across the world through its PISA test. More than 510,000 students in 65 economies took part in the latest test, which covered math, reading and science, with the main focus on math — which the OECD state is a 'strong predictor of participation in post-secondary education and future success.' Asian countries outperform the rest of the world, according to the OECD, with Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macau and Japan amongst the top performing countries and economies. Students in Shanghai performed so well in math that the OECD report compares their scoring to the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries. The study shows also a slight gender cap: in all countries, boys generally perform a bit better than girls, but this applies only to math." Here's a spreadsheet listing each country's results. The U.S. ranked 26th in math (below average), 17th in reading (slightly above average), and 21st in science (slightly below average).
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New Education Performance Data Published: Asia Dominates

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:22PM (#45587063)

    As Slate pointed out this morning (), the way that this study mixes data from individual urban areas with data from whole countries makes it impossible to perform fair comparisons. Note that 4 out of the 7 asian "countries" that the Slashdot summary refers to (Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau) are either city-states or aren't even countries at all!

    Comparing non-countries (or city-states) with countries biases the results by comparing poorer, less educated rural areas with better educated cities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:28PM (#45587123)

    Forgot the URL: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/12/03/we_need_to_stop_letting_china_cheat_on_international_education_rankings.html

  • Re:Asia Vs. America (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:36PM (#45587223)

    In America, you teach that Intelligent Design is valid science.

    In America, belief and opinion is weighed equal to facts and evidence.

    That, in a nutshell, is what it wrong with the US educational system -- it has become a tool of drooling idiots who pass rules about things they don't even remotely understand, and act like their religion actually defines reality.

    In some ways, and in some places, America is little better than the Taliban ever was. You just change the specifics of the religion, but the results are the same.

  • by Guillermito (187510) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:55PM (#45587419) Homepage

    Here

    http://www.oecd.org/pisa/test/ [oecd.org]

    You can take a sample test yourself. See how basic the questions are and feel appalled to see the % of students in your country that managed to pass each level.

    For example, only 11% of students in my country (Argentina) were able to reach level 3 (identify the smallest value in a table). Highest rank for that question was Shanghai-China (89%). USA was 48%.

  • Gender gaps (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:27PM (#45587879) Homepage Journal

    TFS: "The study shows also a slight gender cap: in all countries, boys generally perform a bit better than girls, but this applies only to math."

    PISA 2012 Overview: "Boys perform better than girls in mathematics in only 37 out of the 65 countries and economies that participated in PISA 2012, and girls outperform boys in five countries." (For the curious, they're Jordan, Qatar, Thailand, Malaysia and Iceland.)

    The Guardian article didn't get this wrong. What the hell, submitter?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:39PM (#45588037)

    in Europe, city centers tend to be expensive, prestigious, and very well equipped with top schools. It's probably the poor suburbians who fare worse.

    In America it is exactly the opposite.

    I lived in Shanghai for several years, and my kids attended school there. In American math class they say "show your work". In Chinese math classes they say "do it in your head". Chinese kids have to stand with their hands behind their backs, looking at a list of integers on the whiteboard, and add them up in their head. They do the same with subtraction, multiplication, and division. They drill until they get good at it. As an American, I never learned to do that. So when I need a list of numbers added, I just ask my Chinese educated daughter to do it. That is usually quicker than looking for a calculator.

  • by kamapuaa (555446) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:46PM (#45588181) Homepage

    More than that, Shanghai's hukou system [wikipedia.org] ensures that the children of poor residents from other parts of China aren't even a part of the Shanghai school system. It's more than half the population, and probably more than that by children (poor people and ethnic minorities either aren't subject to, or ignore, the single-child rule). So this is comparing the wealthiest portion of a single city, the city with the best school system in China, to the population of the US as a whole.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:07PM (#45588475)

    The study is flawed because it takes into account the same crappy tests that utterly fail to test for any sort of understanding of the material. This is not "education," unless you consider pure rote memorization to be education.

    Baloney. Have you even looked at the test? Here are some example questions [theguardian.com]. The questions involve a lot more than "rote memorization".

  • by boristhespider (1678416) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:43PM (#45588933)

    This is a totally fair point, so let's remove the Chinese cities and leave only genuinely independent states. City states count as independent states. Then we end up with

    Singapore
    Taiwan
    South Korea
    Japan
    Liechtenstein
    Switzerland
    Netherlands
    Estonia
    Finland
    Canada

    If our pride is still hurt, and I note that Britain, Germany and Norway aren't on the list yet so mine certainly is, we can go further and decide that we won't count city states either (though that's a step that isn't really very well justified at all.) Then we're left with

    Taiwan
    South Korea
    Japan
    Switzerland
    Netherlands
    Estonia
    Finland
    Canada
    Poland
    Belgium

    Alas, I'd have to find another reason to cut out a state before Germany finally popped into the top ten, and I'd have to cut out every single one of these somehow before the UK even came in at number 10. We'd have to lose all those *again* before the USA finally appears in the list.

    The thing that gets me about people's responses to these lists is the air of hurt nationalism. It seems people will say "shitty inner-city areas in the USA are dragging down the average". That's totally true. But the USA is coming in below Slovakia, which has shitty inner-city areas, and Russia, which these days is very little *but* shitty inner-city areas once you're outside of Petersburg and Moscow. Most (indeed all) the European nations have some horrible shitty inner-city areas, too. Unfortunately for humanity, the USA does not hold a monopoly on shitty inner-city schools bringing down the averages.

    The other point is that these tests are indicative, and not much more than that, and in nations with the populations of France, the UK and particularly the USA, you don't *need* an extremely highly-educated workforce to be more than able to keep an edge and keep ahead. You only need enough to fill positions needing high education and high skill, and otherwise people who may not do so well in these tests are more than capable enough to fill in the gaps. (Or, come to that, learn on the job anyway.) So the USA can still more than fill its various three-letter agencies and its universities and its technology firms, as can the UK, as can France. A nation like Liechtenstein, with its 35,000 inhabitants, is less likely to be able to rely on the long tail to do that.

    None of this should be taken as an argument for complacence - Lord knows I'd like our education system(s) dramatically improved - but I don't think being "mid-table" (as the UK, the USA and France all are) is a cause for any new concern.

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