December 22, 2010

More PISA in Perspective

At Super-Economy, Tino takes another crack at PISA scores, putting up graphs that overcome two of the weaknesses I pointed out in my own PISA graph: I could only find scores for America by race for 2009 for reading (and Americans overall did better on reading in 2009 than on science and math), and I used national average scores for other mostly white countries. So, Tino compares the average of reading, math, and science for white Americans to Europeans who are not first or second generation immigrants to come up with a good apples to apples comparison. Finland is still well in the lead (546), but the U.S. comes in seventh (524) out of 27 European-origin countries, well ahead of, for example, the EU-15 average for wealthy Western European countries (506).

That sounds about right. There's a lot of evidence that the U.S. spends a lot on education and get at least something in return. Not great, but not bad either.

Remember, there is, inevitably, a lot of noise in PISA scores, so fine comparisons aren't too reliable. 


Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer, have you looked into the reason why East Asians do better on TIMSS relative to PISA? I remember reading about this before and got the impression that the PISA was more of an applied test and that the TIMSS was more of a pure test. For instance, PISA math has been described as an applied math test and TIMSS math a pure math one. The East Asian edge on the TIMSS math is significantly higher than it is on the PISA math. Does that have something to do with the fact that as an applied mathematics test, PISA math is less g-loaded and tests more on applications, etc.

This would seem to correspond well with the psychometric results, i.e. that the East Asian-white gap is the largest on the most g-loaded exams. For instance, the Raven's Progressive Matrices is considered to be the most g-loaded exam and also the one where the East Asian advantage is the greatest.

Nador said...

I suspect that he could not correct for gypsies in central and eastern European countries [as they are not recent immigrants]. That should change the results somewhat, especially for Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

Anonymous said...

Romania and Bulgaria are excluded.

Hungary is only 2% romi (Slovakia even less), and not all romis students go to school at 15.

Nador said...

I am rather sure, you have never been to Hungary or Slovakia. Hungary has around 8% gypsies, and due to their higher fertility rate at least 15% of high school students. Official census data is known to be wrong. And most of them actually go to school [at least occasionally], since parents can lose child support and welfare if their children fail to show up. Slovakia is quite similar in this regard as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

> Hungary is only 2% romi (Slovakia even less)

Try 10% and 3%.

Anonymous said...

A good question might be why southern and eastern Europeans have done alright here, but perform poorly at home.

Anonymous said...

Ravens Matrices test on the visuospatial component, on which Asians strong exceed all other groups.

TH said...

The PISA math test contains mostly arithmetic, and some very simple algebra and geometry. TIMSS is apparently more difficult.

JerseyGuy said...

Fascinating as always. Are you able to break out the American White and Asian scores by state? I'd be curious to see where high achieving states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire , etc. stack against some other high performing European and Asian countries.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Amusing that the author of the "Super-Economy" blog bangs on about culture, family background, immigrant status, etc. etc. to explain his results. Is this sheer ignorance of the reality of IQ or just careful political correctness? Well, he is a PhD student at Chicago and probably wants tenure some day.

Anonymous said...

No PISA scores by state.

Anonymous said...

"A good question might be why southern and eastern Europeans have done alright here, but perform poorly at home."

Because until recently, centripetal social forces forced all European immigrants into superior Anglo-Saxon norms, culture and tradition. At least after a couple of generations.

European immigrants from countries with worse norms had their software improved by moving to America. Their hardware is as good or almost as good as northern Europeans.

So people of south Italians origins in the United States have a protestant work ethic, believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility, and are fairly civic minded. In southern Italy, they remain opportunistic slackers.

Dutch reader said...

What I find striking in the graph is how closely countries sharing particular characteristics cluster. For instance, after Finland, we find most of Germanic Europe: Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (Dutch/Flemish forms a linguistic continuum with German, and is classified as a separate language primarily for historical and political reasons). The big exception is German-speaking Austria, which scores considerably lower, but does cluster with Hungary - which were part of the same political unit until the early 20th century. Likewise, Spain, Portugal and Italy, which share many linguistic, historical and cultural traits (as well as being geographically close) cluster. Countries with significant Celtic heritage also have very similar scores (Britain, Ireland, France) although this is obscured somewhat in the graph because Scandinavian and some Slavic countries score in the same range. The Czech and Slovak Republics, yet another former political unit, are not excactly adjacent in the graph, but numerically actually very close, although separated by two other strong clusters: the Latin Mediterrean countries and the former Austrian-Hungarian empire.

So as I see it, a very suggestive overall picture emerges, as follows:

1. (546)
- Finland

2. (517-526)
- West Germanic
- Baltic
- USA, Canada + Australia

3. (501-507)
- North Germanic
- Celtic (incl. UK)
- Slavic 1 (Slovenia, Poland)

4. (490-499)
- ex-Austrian-Hungarian Empire
- Slavic 2 (ex-Czecho-Slovakia)
- West (Latin) Mediterreanean

5. (478)
- East (Greek) Mediterranean

Interesting points:
- linguistically, culturally, politically, historically and/or ethnically related countries have very similar scores;
- the home of classical European civilization (Greek + Latin Europe) scores lowest, while the most remote part (Finland) scores best. What to make of that?

TGGP said...

Tino of Super Economy always struck me as un-pc before.

Tino said...

Dutch reader,

Astrias score in 2009 is depressed due to a teachers strike.

In 2006, Austria, excluding first and second generation immigrants, scored 512.

2006 scores, excluding 1st+2nd genration immigrants:

Holland 530
Belgium 520
Austria 512
Sweden 512
Denmark 507
Norway 492

Anonymous said...

>> Hungary is only 2% romi (Slovakia even less)
>Try 10% and 3%.

Try using Wiki before posting:
Hungary: 2.-3%

Slovakia: 1.7%

Doug1 said...

There is another way beyond the direct effects of them scoring much lower on national average scores and being a sizeable percentage of the school age population, that the presence of a lot of NAMs in a Euro ancestry country depresses that country's g related test scores, like the PISA.

Ed schools and government educational policy in the US has been obsessively focused or reducing the NAM/white gap, to the exclusion or great demotion in importance of other considerations, such as raising standards back higher than ever, challenging high and average students greatly, and generally promoting excellence.