Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PISA: Education! Education! Education!

Despite another record rise in exam results in the UK, Britain has fallen behind many countries in the latest PISA scores.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) is highly respected across the globe, and enables politicians and policy-makers to assess how different country's education systems compare.

It shows the UK's reputation as one of the world's best for education is at risk, and has tumbled several places since 2006.

The UK is ranked 25th for reading, 28th for maths and 16th for science. In 2006, when 57 countries were included in the study, it was placed 17th, 24th and 14th respectively. Poland has stretched ahead of the UK in maths, while Norway is now ranked higher in reading and maths.

Andreas Shleicher, head of the Pisa programme, said the picture for the UK was "stagnant at best". "Many other countries have seen quite significant improvement," he added.

The New York Times noted:

With China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam.


HyperCRYPTICal said...

I worry about the annual record rises in exam results as I do not see evidence of an increase in bright young things.

I accept that with the advent of new technology learning is so much easier; sit in front of a computer, key in what you want and the answer is there. No more scouring of books to find the relevant quote or chapter - but to me this was part of the learning process. So is sitting in front of a computer, allowing IT to (re)search a hindrance to actual learning? I think it is. It is not learning.

In the good/bad old days - what ever your viewpoint - maths tables were learnt by rote - but they were learnt! Nowadays, a calculator is allowed in the classroom - so children do not learn. They understand how to use a calculator but not the basics of maths.

It was reported earlier this year that a third of newly qualified graduate nurses failed a basic numeracy test - worrying; worrying too how they graduated! There are also concerns in numeracy skills of nurses and students when performing drug calculations; eight percent of newly qualifed doctors also experience difficulties and make errors in drug calculations; medical doctors poorly prepared to become doctors and so on.

We are definetly travelling in the wrong direction in our effort to make everyone feel equal - for we are not all equal in capabilites - excelling in some and lousy in others.

I find it puzzling that teachers consider that children are over tested - end of year tests were the norm when I was a child and were not a stressor - yet they put great store on the final exams. Are they afraid that yearly testing will show inadequate teaching?

I think we are doing our children a great injustice.

Rant over!

Anna :o]

Cockroach Catcher said...

I share your rant and although I am from the part of the world doing well, I do not agree with some of their ways of teaching.

There is perhaps a conspiracy to dumb all of us, including Medical Students as there is evidence that some rote learning actually is good for the brain (remember the London Taxi Driver?)

Nowadays people look at the info on the computer and quickly forget about it. Facebook is the greatest thing for dumbing as nobody will bother to remember what was on it beyond the page.

I once talked to an IT guy who said that the doctors are now useless as they cannot diagnose his father’s rare condition. So he searched the web and diagnosed it himself. But wait: I asked him what the diagnosis was. He could not tell me! I rest my case.

I know the new Medical Students cannot seem to remember that much. They are fast becoming un-exportable. Perhaps someone is very clever up in government.

We do approach Maths in a different way in the East. But in our days we have 45 in a class, yes 45, so do not start me on class size either.

Thanks for the RANT and do not forget, the offer of Kindle ready Cockroach Catcher is still open.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Is dumbing down a conspiracy - possibly yes, as the uneducated masses are more malleable and easy to manipulate.

Facebook I agree with; I signed up and find its content mind numbing! It does have one redeeming feature in that it directs me to interesting articles in journals I have subscibed to.

Kindle is not for me as I prefer the look and feel of a real book, however, did a mass ordering from Amazon and your book was part of it.

I haven't read it yet, but look forward to reading its contents.

Anna :o]

Cockroach Catcher said...

Many thanks.