International Testing Ranks

child thinkingA while back I posted information regarding the United State’s recent ranking on the PISA (Programme for international Student Assessment.)  The test measures students’ skills in reading numeracy and science and is given to 15 year old children around the world every three years. (The previous post is CCSS: A Wake Up Call for America.)  At the time, I remember thinking it is a shame that we scored in 14th place.

As with many assessments and data analysis, it is important to be sure you are comparing apples with apples.  Statistical analysis is very often tempered by the viewpoints and opinions of the reviewer. In his new book, “Stop the School Bus – Getting Education Reform Back on Track, Gerald N. Tirozzi discusses some important questions regarding the PISA and the complexities of international achievement comparisons.  I’ve listed just a few from page 137:

  • Which school and students are represented?
  • What is the total sample size?
  • What regions of the country are represented?
  • Are children with disabilities involved in the testing?

Legislatures, CEO’s and corporations  bashed the schools and teachers in particular when these results were published.  Mel Riddle, an associate director for high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals did some deeper study into the PISA results.  He noticed several things that have a tendency to skew the results – the biggest of which is poverty.  Look as the following charts and see what you think.  You can go to Riddle’s website for a lot more information.  There is still an achievement gap in our schools but it is not necessarily the fault of our nation’s teachers. It is a result of our nation’s poverty.

While the overall PISA rankings ignore such differences in the tested schools, when groupings based on the rate of free and reduced lunch are created, a direct relationship is established.

Free and Reduced Meal Rate PISA Score
Schools with < 10% 551
Schools with 10-24.9% 527
Schools with 25-49.9% 502
Schools with 49.9-74.9% 471
Schools with >75% 446
U. S. average 500
OECD average 493


For more information check



About Lucy Salerno

I have been a resident of Fairfield for over 25 years and have 30 years’ teaching experience in California K – 6 schools. I have been a music teacher, band and choral director, elementary teacher in grades K – 6, a district level technology coordinator teaching, and an elementary school administrator. In 2011, my most recent school, Scandia Elementary, on Travis Air Force Base, was awarded the California Distinguished School Award for work and programs implemented under my watch. Because of my broad educational background, I know and understand what is needed in today's difficult educational environment. I have taught writing to children in numerous grades as a core subject as well as integrating writing into other curricula areas. I retired a few years ago from the Travis Unified School District, I love working with children, and am now dedicating my services and skills in support of your children. Through love and patience, I hope to understand a child's needs, meet them where they are, build self-confidence and develop a life-long love of learning.
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