December 2, 2013

New PISA scores

Lately, Europeans have really been getting into the international PISA tests of academic performance among 15-year-olds. This test is given in over 60 countries every three years. The 2012 results will be released on Tuesday (10 am Greenwich Mean Time) here.

So, there's going to be a lot of hoopla, but let me link here to some resources for understanding the results, whatever they may turn out to be.

I've got a book review in the pipeline at Taki's Magazine that looks at Amanda Ripley's PISA book, The Smartest Kids in the World, in which she writes up the experiences of three American exchange students who went to PISA powerhouses South Korea and Finland and rising star Poland. I consider whether everybody should put as much faith in PISA scores as Ripley does.

Here's my 2010 article in on interpreting the 2009 PISA test.

Heiner Rindermann has been writing numerous academic articles on what we can learn from PISA as well as competing international tests such as TIMSS and PIRLS, as well as the national standardization of IQ tests. Here is his 2007 paper:
The g-factor of international cognitive ability comparisons: the homogeneity of results in PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS and IQ-tests across nations 
International cognitive ability and achievement comparisons stem from different research traditions. But analyses at the interindividual data level show that they share a common positive manifold. Correlations of national ability means are even higher to very high (within student assessment studies, r = .60–.98; between different student assessment studies [PISA-sum with TIMSS-sum] r = .82–.83; student assessment sum with intelligence tests, r = .85–.86). Results of factor analyses indicate a strong g-factor of differences between nations (variance explained by the first unrotated factor: 94–95%). Causes of the high correlations are seen in the similarities of tests within studies, in the similarities of the cognitive demands for tasks from different tests, and in the common developmental factors at the individual and national levels including known environmental and unknown genetic influences.  

And here is the discussion of his article by numerous academics.

Here is Rindermann's 2009 paper with James Thompson:
Cognitive Capitalism: The Effect of Cognitive Ability on Wealth, as Mediated Through Scientific Achievement and Economic Freedom
Traditional economic theories stress the relevance of political, institutional, geographic, and historical factors for economic growth. In contrast, human-capital theories suggest that peoples’ competences, mediated by technological progress, are the deciding factor in a nation’s wealth. Using three large-scale assessments, we calculated cognitive-competence sums for the mean and for upper- and lower-level groups for 90 countries and compared the influence of each group’s intellectual ability on gross domestic product. In our cross-national analyses, we applied different statistical methods (path analyses, bootstrapping) and measures developed by different research groups to various country samples and historical periods. Our results underscore the decisive relevance of cognitive ability—particularly of an intellectual class with high cognitive ability and accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, and math—for national wealth. Furthermore, this group’s cognitive ability predicts the quality of economic and political institutions, which further determines the economic affluence of the nation. Cognitive resources enable the evolution of capitalism and the rise of wealth. 


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

James Piereson: The Making of a Martyr
Can we finally tell the truth about the Kennedy assassination?

Anonymous said...

poles are smart?

Education Realist said...

Steve, have you been following Tom Loveless on the "Chinese" Pisa scores?

It's mentioned elsewhere as well, but he's got the strongest line in it. Also, if you check his twitter feed, he's got a link to a really sad AP story about what it took to get one rural Chinese kid to college.

Also, I haven't read the book yet, but when I googled Amanda Ripley cheating, the only hit I got was her Atlantic story about US sports and the country's obsession with cheating. Yes. Our country. Is it true she doesn't mention Korean cheating in the book?

ckp said...

On BBC news this morning I saw a report about Korean cram schools and how the British education system might hope to match them in the future. Then worries over us dropping in the league tables, especially in mathematics. Nobody could offer an explanation of the decline.

Later on was a large report about the unprecedented levels of migration into Britain, which is set to continue unless radical steps are taken. I guess it's a lost cause for British math education when our media can't even add 2 and 2.

Anonymous said...

The WSJ has the results. East Asians are doing even better than before, Finland is in a downward slide (as expected based on national tests). America is doing worse than before, Sweden's results are absolutely terrible.

dearieme said...

Consider this:

Dutch reader said...

"Poles are smart?" Yes, Poles in Poland are smart. In the Netherlands, where I live, Poles are usually drywallers, carpenters, or truck drivers, but the Poles I met in Poland are every bit as intelligent and well-educated as in Western Europe.

Anonymous said...

Sweden fell through the floor. This was preceded by the largest newspaper in the country suggesting that several countries have been cheating. Methink reality bites.

David Davenport said...

That link goes to:

Is the Great Recession Creating a Generation of Democrats?

Research suggests it’s entirely possible. ...

My response to that piece:

Many Deutschlanders whose political preferences during the 1920's were to the left of the German National Socialist Workers' Party voted for the NSDAP in 1932.

Anonymous said...

They like for you to think that they are dumb.

Anonymous said...

Steve, what's with the dang paywall at VDare? Would VDare let you post your 2010 PISA chart here? It's a powerful teaching device, but now I can't email it to people as used to.

dearieme said...

For those who can get through the Telegraph's pay wall, there's an interesting article today on the defects of PISA. Still, nobody doubts (do they?) that, for instance, US and British children get a pretty lousy education from the state. In Britain the explanation is easy: the Forces of Progress have spent a couple of generations deliberately bringing it about. Is it the same for you?

Anonymous said...

The question I'm really interested in is just how well did India do in these tests?

I mean we are constantly harangued by the phrase that 'India and China own the future'. We can see that in the case of China, his does appear true, but what about India?

Really, there is no bigger question for the 21st century.

Arntor said...

Greetings from Norway, love your blog. The funny thing this time around is that the socialists here claim that the difference found between Norway and Sweden (Norway bad, but Sweden really, really bad) comes from the fact that Sweden allowed private schools 15 years ago, not the fact that they are replacing their population with a new one from the Middle East and Africa. The situation in Sweden is a ticking bomb(for instance they do bad in boring subjects like reading and math but they're world leading in school fires with 457 last year) and we have 2562 km( roughly 1600 miles of open borders to this madness. And don't forget we are the world's seconds most naive nation(after Sweden)

Dave Pinsen said...

Someone brought up PISA scores in the comments thread of this post on Fred Wilson's site today, in which Fred objected to this characterization of his education philanthropy by a journalist in NY Mag:

"Like much tech-world philanthropy, the tech schools are arriving as a fiat from on high, rather than welling up from grassroots demand, and it’s easy to read the education evangelism as motivated, at least in part, by a desire to mainstream techies’ own idiosyncratic way of looking at the world."

I brought up the immigration connection, noting that we get a plurality of our immigrants from a country that does poorly on PISA, and that the best coaching in the world won't make up for a weak draft. Sample responses:

"So you think it's genetic?"

"This sounds like phrenology to me"

"You know, this was said about the Italians and the Jews when they came to the US, circa 1880, which was around the time IQ tests were invented. The problem disappeared after 3 generations"