Wednesday, December 4, 2013

global intelligence

Yesterday the results of an international standardized test were released and surprising to no one, the U.S. did not fair well in the comparison.  You can read a brief summary of the findings here

There are a lot of questions inherent in such tests.

  • How were the students selected?
  • Who wrote the questions?
  • Did the students prepare for the test?
  • Is the sample of students from each country similar?
  • How can we compare ourselves to countries where not all students attend school?
  • Was the test controlled for cultural bias?
  • Does the test actually assess something we care about?

My list can go on and on.  I attempted to research some of these questions, but the website is not as helpful as I would like.  I don't have answers, just more questions.

I think the last question is especially important, so before we once again start beating up on our 15-year-olds, our teachers, and our educational system, why don't we take a look at the problems.  Try them yourself.  There's only 6.  I answered them in about 10 minutes, but I am a math teacher.  Can you do them all?  Presumably everyone older than fifteen should get them correct.  But whether you can or you cannot, I think we'd better start asking the right questions.

  • What is it that we actually want our children to learn? 
  • What kind of problems should they be able to solve? 
  • What are our goals?
  • How will we know if we've met them? 
  • What are the best means to reach these goals?
  • What do we need to be successful?
  • Are we willing to do whatever it takes to educate every child in America? 

I welcome your thoughts. 

You can find some additional commentary here

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