Thursday, December 5, 2013

STEM Leadership and International Test Scores

I was just reading Steve Peha's weekly newsletter who pointed me towards an article by Gerald Bracey: this relatively brief blog post.  I'd like to quote it since it makes a significant point about technology leadership,  STEM education, and cross-national test comparisons:

It should be noted that these rankings <PISA Test> are determined by nations’ average scores. ....A publication from OECD itself observes that if one examines the number of highest-scoring students in science, the United States has 25% of all high-scoring students in the world (at least in “the world” as defined by the 58 nations taking part in the assessment—the 30 OECD nations and 28 “partner” countries). Among nations with high average scores, Japan accounted for 13% of the highest scorers, Korea 5%, Taipei 3%, Finland 1%, and Hong Kong 1%. Singapore did not participate.
The picture emerging from this highest-scorer comparison is far different than that suggested by the frequently cited national average comparisons; it is a picture that suggests many American schools are actually doing very well indeed.
Of course, the U.S. is much larger than these other countries and should be expected to produce larger numbers of successful students. But it is only when we look beyond the mean and consider the distribution of students and schools that we see the true picture. 

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