Tuesday, December 6, 2016

So about those Massachusetts PISA scores

Can we all say this together? "We are proud of the work of our students and teachers but there is still work to be done!"
(really: check the quotes)
It's interesting to see what PISA itself emphasizes in the release of the results:
Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Hong Kong (China) and Macao (China) achieve high levels of performance and equity in education outcomes.  
 Poorer students are 3 times more likely to be low performers than wealthier students, and immigrant students are more than twice as likely as non-immigrants to be low achievers. 
Nearly 20% of students in OECD countries, on average, do not attain the baseline level of proficiency in reading. This proportion has remained stable since 2009.

These would be useful conversations to have. They aren't the ones being had, however.
It's worth (as always) reading Yong Zhao about the relative worth of such results:
PISA is not a political poll, but it does attempt to predict the future. “PISA assesses the extent to which students near the end of compulsory education have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies,” according to its brochure. These students are 15 years old. In other words, PISA claims that its results predict the future success of individual students and, by association, their nations.
I riffed a bit about PISA on Twitter this morning: we'll inevitably have comparisons between Massachusetts and our only real competition, Singapore, which is a Malaysian city-state which spends 20% of its budget on education. Call me a cynic, but I suspect we'll hear less about that and more about how they teach math.

UPDATE: and I'd be interested in any explanation that someone can offer on this (from DESE's press release):
"Of particular note is the fact that only 14 percent of the variation in our students' science scores is attributable to family economic background. Eighty-six percent is determined by instruction and district practices," Commissioner Chester said.
And we know that how?

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