15 December 2010
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, is a two-hour test that compares the performance offifteen-year-olds. In the latest test, the countries with the best readers were South Korea and Finland. But students in Shanghai, China, scored the highest of all in reading, mathematics and science.
The nextstrongest results were in Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
In all, around half a million students in more than seventy economies took the test last year. The test has been givenevery three years since two thousand. Last year was the first time Shanghai took part.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development just released the results. Andreas Schleicher isdirector of the Education Indicators and Analysis Division at the OECD.
ANDREAS SCHLEICHER: "Asian countries value education more than other countries. They have given education a priority. Every child,every teacher, every parent knows that education is the gateway to success."
Mr. Schleicher says other education systems can learn from Shanghai. For example, he says education spending in the provincehas increased, including teacher pay and training. And administrators are putting teachers into challenging classroom situations to make them better at their jobs.
ANDREAS SCHLEICHER: "They arepairing great with poorer schools in a way that is very systematic and very much focused on improving results."
In the PISA scoring system, Shanghai scored six hundred in math. By comparison, the UnitedStates scored four hundred eighty-seven.
Shanghai's reading average was five hundred fifty-six. American fifteen-year-olds scored five hundred, the same as in Iceland and Poland.
In science, Finlandwas second behind Shanghai. The United States was twenty-third.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the results show an urgent need for Americans to do more to remain competitive in the world...