December 3, 2013

PISA reading scores by race: America does pretty well

On the international PISA tests in 2012, American 15-year-olds tended to do best on Reading Literacy, medium on Science Literacy, and worst on Mathematics Literacy. I have no idea whether that's for real or just a reflection of the difficulties of translating PISA tests into dozens of languages and making them equally hard in all. Here's our strong suit Reading, with American racial groups broken out according to the federal governments National Center for Education Statistics website for exploring the new PISA data:

OECD average              496
Shanghai-China            570
Asian Americans 550
Hong Kong-China           545
Singapore                 542
Japan                     538
Korea, Republic of        536
Massachusetts All Races 527
Finland                   524
Ireland                   523
Chinese Taipei            523
Canada                    523
Connecticut All Races 521
White Americans 519
Poland                    518
Multiracial Americans 517
Estonia                   516
Liechtenstein             516
New Zealand               512
Australia                 512
Netherlands               511
Belgium                   509
Switzerland               509
Macao-China               509
Vietnam                   508
Germany                   508
France                    505
Norway                    504
United Kingdom            499
United States             498
Denmark                   496
Czech Republic            493
Florida All Races 492
Italy                     490
Austria                   490
Latvia                    489
Hungary                   488
Spain                     488
Luxembourg                488
Portugal                  488
Israel                    486
Croatia                   485
Sweden                    483
Iceland                   483
Slovenia                  481
Hispanic Americans 478
Lithuania                 477
Greece                    477
Turkey                    475
Russian Federation        475
Slovak Republic           463
Cyprus                    449
Serbia, Republic of       446
African Americans 443
United Arab Emirates      442
Chile                     441
Thailand                  441
Costa Rica                441
Romania                   438
Bulgaria                  436
Mexico                    424
Montenegro, Republic of   422
Uruguay                   411
Brazil                    410
Tunisia                   404
Colombia                  403
Jordan                    399
Malaysia                  398
Indonesia                 396
Argentina                 396
Albania                   394
Kazakhstan                393
Qatar                     388
Peru                      384

In reading, Asian Americans beat all Asian countries, and trailed only the prosperous city of Shanghai.

White Americans came in fourth among historically white countries, behind only Finland, Ireland, and Canada. White Americans beat a couple of dozen historically white countries wealthy enough to belong to the OECD. Of course, most of these aren't as white as they used to be anymore.

Hispanic Americans beat all eight Latin American countries.

African Americans didn't have any competition from predominantly black counties in Africa or the West Indies, but it's worth noting that African Americans beat all eight Latin American countries.

Keep in mind that this is just in Reading, which American tends to do better in than Math or Science.

Keep in mind that Americans spend a huge amount of money on education.

For more postings devoted to analyzing PISA scores, click the Labels: PISA below. 

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that Americans spend a huge amount of money on education.

Yeah, seeing how Hispanics score higher than several Southeastern European countries, and how blacks score higher than Argentina and some other countries, I imagine the PISA scores to a large degree just reflect how prosperous or organized the countries are. Argentina and many SE Euro countries have had economic problems and their public sectors haven't had lots of tax revenue. Lots of their youth probably drop out or have spotty school attendance. Whereas in the US the public sector has a lot of money to ensure that kids at least attend school.

cyril said...

Can someone explain to me why China, almost alone, is allowed to be represented by a single prosperous city? How is it fair that they get to bask in the glory of world-beating yet unrepresentative scores? And why couldn't they expand from Shanghai to a larger sample size within the past 3-4 years? I understand there are logistical difficulties in such a mammoth country, but they seem to have enough smart administrators to manage it! PISA owes it to the minor third-world countries that put themselves out there for this ritual humiliation that China not be able to sit atop the rankings with unrepresentative false glamor.

AK said...

@cyril,

China does test comprehensively, it's just that they only release the Shanghai figures. But fortunately the results for the rest of the country were leaked for 2009, even though they didn't make a big splash.

They are very good, BTW, averaging out to 520 (only 486 for Reading, but 524 for Science and 550 for Math).

http://akarlin.com/2012/08/analysis-of-chinas-pisa-2009-results/

ironrailsironweights said...

Black American students also beat three overwhelmingly white countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Albania).

Peter

Ă…sille Olava said...

"I imagine the PISA scores to a large degree just reflect how prosperous or organized the countries are."

Varieties in performance between countries correlate about 30% with spending on education and 20% with per capita GDP.

The correllation is somewhat less when just comparing the OECD countries.

Jefferson said...

"Black American students also beat three overwhelmingly white countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Albania).

Peter"

Maybe they have a lot of Gypsies in their public schools.

The vast majority of Gypsies have a very low I.Q.

When was the last time you saw a Gypsy doctor,lawyer, scientist, or engineer ? Or see Gypsies in any other profession that requires having a high I.Q.

Matthew said...

"Black American students also beat three overwhelmingly white countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Albania)."

These three countries quite handily beat most Sub-Saharan African countries in per capita income.

It's hard to take seriously any test results where the USA outperforms countries like Sweden, Italy, Austria, Israel, and Denmark.

America and the UK outperfom Israel in reading? Ireland outperforms the UK? Someone needs update Professor Higgins.

ATBOTL said...

What states likely have the lowest performing white students? WV, TN, KY, OK and AK must be near the top of the list.

TomV said...

Matthew,
What's wrong with Americans' outperforming Italians? Or Israelis, for that matter? (The latter is the whole point of your post, isn't it?)

proudfeministgirl said...

Embarrasing results for Brazil : /

Matthew said...

"What's wrong with Americans' outperforming Italians? Or Israelis, for that matter? (The latter is the whole point of your post, isn't it?)"

Oy vey. No, it isn't. I just find it unusual and unlikely that America, weighed down by blacks and Hispanics, would still manage to outperform many lily-white European countries.

Beating Israel may actually be the least surprising, since Israel has large numbers of Muslim Arabs as well as non-Ashkenazi Jews. But Sweden, Austria, and Denmark? Hmmmm.

It would be interesting to predict where America will rank based on what our population is projected to look like 15 and 30 years from now.

Anonymous said...

"What's wrong with Americans' outperforming Italians? Or Israelis, for that matter? (The latter is the whole point of your post, isn't it?)"

Oy vey. No, it isn't. I just find it unusual and unlikely that America, weighed down by blacks and Hispanics, would still manage to outperform many lily-white European countries.


Rather than wasting time swatting at Whiskey this kind of BS should get slammed a lot more around these parts. This is the kind of stuff that will prevent HBD from ever getting even a whiff of main stream attention. The guys that don't care what the stats say lily-white countries beat America because I say so. But nope not a peep of protest saving your energy up for the next time someone posts a comment that isn't completely estastic about the country that invaded our embassy not 40 years ago getting a nuclear bomb I guess.

Matt Buckalew

Anonymous said...

"Can someone explain to me why China, almost alone, is allowed to be represented by a single prosperous city"

THAT ISN'T THE ****ING POINT OF THE TEST

It says Shanghai-China, not China. You have to understand that the people at PISA didn't design this as a racial competition as whites see everything.

jody said...

this is the score that matters the least. i wonder what they even ask on the reading section.

i like how the british, by FAR the most literary people in the history of man, are beaten soundly year in and year on this test, by like 20 nations. really? the chinese, who produce no written material of any note pretty much ever in the last, oh, century, are crushing the british here constantly?

the americans, who per capita are clearly behind the british in how literary they are, how good they are at writing fiction, non-fiction, movie scripts, music lyrics, poetry, size of vocabulary, oratory ability, and so forth, soundly beat the british every time on this PISA thing.

i don't know what it's measuring, probably nothing important, but i do know i can safely ignore this score.

maybe it measures how good you are at reading and updating facebook posts.

Anonymous said...

They are very good, BTW, averaging out to 520 (only 486 for Reading, but 524 for Science and 550 for Math).

Yep, good but more like Vietnam than South Korea or Japan (and economically more similar as well).

Anonymous said...

i like how the british, by FAR the most literary people in the history of man, are beaten soundly year in and year on this test, by like 20 nations. really? the chinese, who produce no written material of any note pretty much ever in the last, oh, century, are crushing the british here constantly?

If you look at the literature, is British folks have underperformed on skills investments and the degree to which youth care about qualifications, relative to our wealth and productivity.

There's still Oxford and Cambridge and institutions like that, but perhaps more from skills and general wealth and productivity than any desire for education.

Another issue here is that Britain has traditionally been high inequality a lot of measures, more because of free market and individualistic traditions combined with long periods without any violent redistribution than "land of the dollar" culture, but still. And this shows in achievement and educational metrics.

Ultimately, education is a proxy for what we care about - science, art and wealth (maybe philosophy and elevated religion).

Anonymous said...

How easy is it to cheat? Could black school teachers have any incentive to aid in cheating?

Harold said...

“You have to understand that the people at PISA didn't design this as a racial competition as whites see everything.”

This guy comes from opposite world where whites see everything as a racial competition and all other races are race blind.

Are you just trolling or are you insane?

Anonymous said...

When was the last time you saw a Gypsy -- lawyer --?

We got at least one of those in Finland... out of a total population of <20k. Very sympathetic and pro-conformism dude, specializes in high-profile "dirty" work.

Then again, gypsies of SE Europe seem like a completely different kind of people. We get those in the summertime. They head back home when the winter comes. Perhaps just that is the reason for the difference?

Teemu said...

"When was the last time you saw a Gypsy -- lawyer --?

We got at least one of those in Finland..."

He's only one quarter Gypsy. :)

If you mean this guy:

http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heikki_Lampela

Anonymous said...

"i like how the british, by FAR the most literary people in the history of man, are beaten soundly year in and year on this test, by like 20 nations. really?"

The British *were* the most literary (and the most scientific) after 100s of years of eugenic culture.

That culture went into reverse after the industrial revolution plus on top of that the indigenous population is being very rapidly replaced by the ruling elite.

Given that I'm not at all surprised the Chinese are pulling ahead now (although i think the gap would be smaller if they didn't exclude immigrants and will get increasingly smaller if they don't prevent what has happened to the west from happening to them).

Anonymous said...

"I just find it unusual and unlikely that America, weighed down by blacks and Hispanics, would still manage to outperform many lily-white European countries."

I don't see why that is surprising. Isn't one of the "facts" about education that expenditure has no effect? Maybe it doesn't if you look at the average results but what if when you break the results down by ethnicity Americans of Italian descent beat Italians and African Americans beat Africans and German Americans beat Germans? Maybe that greater expenditure does have an effect after all?

Or if in the quest to close the gap American schools did come up with some improvements to teaching methods just not good enough to close the genetic gap?

Anonymous said...

"I just find it unusual and unlikely that America, weighed down by blacks and Hispanics, would still manage to outperform many lily-white European countries."

I don't see why that is surprising. Isn't one of the "facts" about education that expenditure has no effect? Maybe it doesn't if you look at the average results but what if when you break the results down by ethnicity Americans of Italian descent beat Italians and African Americans beat Africans and German Americans beat Germans? Maybe that greater expenditure does have an effect after all?

Or if in the quest to close the gap American schools did come up with some improvements to teaching methods just not good enough to close the genetic gap?

Anonymous said...

"He's only one quarter Gypsy. :)"

Well what did Julian Simon say? The solution to x is dilution.

Also, our most popular rock star is a gypsy. Half-gypsy at least.

Tom said...

I cannot see PISA scores for the US by race. Could you provide a link?

Anonymous said...

"cyril said...

Can someone explain to me why China, almost alone, is allowed to be represented by a single prosperous city? "

Yeah, one wonders why the US is represented by only three states.

" School systems in Connecticut, Florida and Massachusetts were among the only three states to represent the U.S. in the 2012 PISA study."