Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PISA Under Examination: David Berliner's Keynote Speech

David Berliner gave a keynote speech entitled, "Contexts of High-Stakes Testing: The 'Quality' of the PISA Results and the Challenges of PISA to Definitions of School Knowledge"

Here are the notes from the speech:
  • PISA - not high-stakes testing in the USA, unlike Germany
  • State tests (50 of them) have sanctions
  • NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Survey), AP (Advanced Placement), SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), ACT (American College Testing) are indicators of quality
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Same context of interpretation: uncritical acceptance of scores as validation of teachers and school quality
  • Scores - a prophesy: transmitting scores into predictions
  • Media focus on USA's poor performance in scores
  • Press attention - US students "below average"
  • PISA 2006 focus on science: Glee in the USA, as newspaper writers like bad news, and it promoted vouchers and charter schools
  • High PISA scores come from countries with strong public schools and national standards. *Finland does not*
  • High-stakes testing popular in the USA - competition
  • Last half of the 20th century was American-dominated in terms of education
  • No longer the case as illustrated by PISA
  • Perpetuates the myth of failed education
  • David Brooks of the New York Times: PISA scores are shaping the nation
  • Tom Friedman of the New York Times: USA in PISA is like Slovakia or Portugal, not like Canada or The Netherlands
  • USA in PISA at the international average
Media does not report:
  • high scorers in PISA's Level 6 above the OECD average
  • 240,000 Finnish students are at Level 6
  • 7.4 million US students are at Level 6
  • this does not indicate decline in education for the USA
  • trouble in finding jobs: in the USA, 25% of the top scorers were at Level 6 in scientific literacy. In 2001 there were 758,000 bachelor's degrees in science, although 1/3 of these students did not stay in science. In 2001 there were 160,000 master's degrees in science, but 2/3 of these students do not have science jobs.
  • PISA tests not what is learned in schools, but what is learned over life
  • USA - wrong performance analysis. PISA purposely unrelated to curriculum and not related to school
  • PISA - GDP per capita and number of youth (percentage of school age population) can predict PISA scores, for example in Finland
  • USA - breakdown of race: White students (40% of the school-age population) scored similarly to the Japanese in PISA. Minority students score lower.
  • in the USA, SAT scores directly correlate to family income, e.g. wealthy students perform well in PISA, the SAT, etc.; poor, minority students do not perform well; Anglo countries have much child poverty
US education policy: by 2015, children must be "proficient," but these things are not taken into consideration:
  • the possibility of cheating, giving answers, etc.
  • high-stakes testing corrupts schools
  • Campbell's Law: whenever a social indicator takes on too much value, the actors/creators will become corrupt
  • the narrowing of the US curricula: No Child Left Behind led to an increase in reading and math instruction. The more time devoted to learning must lead to more achievement, but with the exception of No Child Left Behind. Too much drilling? Something is going wrong.
  • No Child Left Behind was created to reduce the gap in learning, but the gap has not closed
England replicated the policy and received the same results:
  • narrowing of curriculum
  • only rewarding academic achievement
  • narrow view of the "educated child"
  • taking time from other subjects to focus on mathematics and reading. In the USA, time was taken from recess, social studies, art, music, and lunch.
USA has an "apartheid curriculum," for example, areas of low poverty can focus on art and music, while areas of high poverty concentrate on test preparation, mathematics, and reading.

This is VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)
  • we are heading to this world
  • we need breadth in the curriculum
  • a VUCA world would seem to demand breadth. We need breadth to survive. We won't evolve properly. We need variation of talents and skills to survive.
19th century goals of education:
  • love of learning
  • thinking for oneself
Howard Gardner:
  • schools have a responsibility to teach morals
USA data has led to:
  • stopping of napping
  • the seven minute lunch

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