If the US Reported PISA Scores Like Other Countries…


Reposted from Forbes:

Based on results from the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, of the 65 countries ranked, the US ranks 31st in math (down from 25th in 2009), 24th in science (down from 20th), and 21st in reading (down from 11th). A weakness of the PISA test, however, is that China is allowed to let certain regions stand in for the performance of the entire nation. Only three Chinese regions – Shanghai (top-ranked in all three categories), Taipei (3rd in Math, 11th in reading, 21st in science), and Hong Kong (4th in math, 4th in reading, 5th in science) — were included in the latest PISA results. What if the same policy applied in the US, where we could cherry-pick the results of three states and exclude the other forty-seven? While our overall performance would not put us tops in the world, it would dramatically increase our rankings in each tested category.

Free Enterprise analyzed data from ACT, the College Board and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s annual Leaders and Laggards state-by-state report card in creating an overall academic assessment of each US state (not just subject-specific competitiveness scores, ala PISA). According to a Free Enterprise infographic, the top US states in overall academic proficiency are, from 1-10: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

By digging deeper into the Free Enterprise analysis, I found that if Massachusetts were allowed to report subject scores independently — much the way that, say, Shanghai is allowed to do so — the Bay State would rank 9th in the world in Math Proficiency, tied with Japan, and on the heels of 8th-ranked Switzerland. In reading, Massachusetts would rank fourth in the world, tied with Hong Kong, and not far behind third-ranked Finland.

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