Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
I have been fascinated by the continuing commentary and controversy about the results of the international tests of reading, mathematics, and science known as PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment). President Barack Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan immediately said that the mediocre standing of American students was "a Sputnik moment," which should produce strong support for their agenda of testing and privately managed schools. Others used the results to promote whatever their favorite remedy was.
National Association of Secondary School Principals - The Principal Difference Blog
Posted by Mel Riddle, December 15, 2010
PISA: It's Poverty Not Stupid
The release of the 2009 PISA results this past week has created quite a stir and has provided ample fodder for public school bashers and doomsayers who further their own philosophical and profit-motivated agendas by painting all public schools as failing.
This week, Secretary Duncan had a golden opportunity to use the PISA results to provide focus for our education efforts and to point us in the right direction. Instead, he dug himself deeper into the pseudo-reformers' hole--more charter schools, more reliance on competition and free-market strategies, more testing, more use of test scores to evaluate teachers, more firing of principals and teachers, more closing of low-scoring schools--when he said, "the PISA scores released this past Tuesday were "a massive wake-up call," because the scores show American students holding relatively steady in the middle of the pack of the developed nations taking the international exam.
Leveling the playing field
A more accurate assessment of the performance of U.S. students would be obtained by comparing the scores of American schools with comparable poverty rates to those of other countries.
Schools in the United States with less than a 10% poverty rate had a PISA score of 551. When compared to the ten countries with similar poverty numbers, that score ranked first.
In the next category (poverty rates of 10-24.9%) the U.S. average of 527 placed first out of the ten comparable nations.
LAF – I would strongly recommend taking a couple minutes to read Mel Riddle's complete posting:
THE lackluster performance of our 15-year-olds in math, science and reading in a standardized test compared with Shanghai's students scoring first in all three subjects, have stirred some interesting and somewhat self-deprecating comments. President Obama declared it a "Sputnik moment," and columnist Esther Cepeda opined alarmingly about China "eating our lunch."
Even more important, but far less-known, is that in Shanghai, as in most other Chinese cities, the rural migrant workers that are the true urban working poor (totaling about 150 million in the country), are not allowed to send their kids to public high schools in the city. This is engineered by the discriminatory hukou or household registration system, which classifies them as "outsiders." Those teenagers will have to go back home to continue education, or drop out of school altogether.
In other words, the city has 3 to 4 million working poor, but its high-school system conveniently does not need to provide for the kids of that segment. In essence, the poor kids are purged from Shanghai's sample of 5,100 students taking the tests