If nothing else, the OECD comment that students in Shanghai, as well as other Chinese cities, may be functioning at levels as much as three years higher than their age counterparts in other OECD countries, should get our attention. Canada gets a “middling-good” grade, while the USA is at about the OECD average. Of the non-Asian countries, Finland comes out the leader, and for a good reason. Several years ago Finland identified the quality of teaching as a key factor in student outcomes. They overhauled the teacher training system to recruit only top students, gave the teachers clear goals as well as flexibility in their approach. Some selected results are shown below, followed by a commentary by Brookings scholars.
|Student performance in mathematics, mean score||613||519||518||481||494|
|Student performance in reading, mean score||570||524||523||498||496|
|Student performance in science, mean score||580||545||525||497||501|
|Top performers in mathematics (proficiency levels 5 and 6), percentage||55.4||16.4||15.3||8.8||12.6|
|Top performers in reading (proficiency levels 5 and 6), percentage||25.1||13.5||12.8||7.9||8.4|
|Top performers in science (proficiency levels 5 and 6), percentage||27.2||17.1||11.3||7.5||8.4|
…the PISA survey reveals several features of successful education systems where investments should be considered. These include early individualized assessments to identify struggling students, quality preprimary school especially for socioeconomically disadvantaged children, and improving the quality of teaching through greater autonomy, better training and well-structured incentives.
Meanwhile, countries that performed best tend to allocate resources more equitably between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
The authors point out that the USA has the highest per student allocation for education, yet ranks behind 18 other OECD countries in performance.
Source: Jenny Perlman Robinson and Jenny Alexander | Te Brookings Institution, December 11, 2013 5:36pm Three Lessons from the Latest PISA Scores
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