The International Statistics That Matter Most

Diane Ravitch's blog

As a nation, we worry far too much about PISA scores, which rank and rate students according to standardized tests. Many nations have higher average scores than we do, yet we are the most powerful nation on earth–economically, technologically, and militarily. What do the PISA scores mean? In his new book, “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and the Worst) Education in the World,” Yong Zhao says that the East Asian nations have the top scores because they do heavy-duty test prep. One thing is clear: the PISA scores do not predict the future of our economy. They never have. Our students have never had high scores on international tests, not since the first international test of math was administered in 1964, and our seniors scored last among 12 nations. We went on over the half-century since then to outcompete the other 11 nations…

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