The Meaning of PISA

See on Scoop.itHot Issues in Education

Marc Tucker explains how the results of the latest PISA assessment ought to inform America’s education policy reform agenda: we should be basing it on the strategies employed by the top performing education systems in the world.

Cecilia Rosas‘s insight:

We will not find the answers to our declining ranking on the world’s education league tables in a romanticized past, or in the market or in disruptive change or in punitive accountability systems or getting rid of our worst teachers.  None of the PISA top performers got there with those solutions.

They all got there the old-fashioned way.  They invested more in their harder-to-educate students than their easier-to-educate students.  They worked hard to make sure that young children and their families had a lot of support before the kids arrived at the school door.  They started recruiting their teachers from their most talented high school graduates rather than their least talented graduates.  They insisted that all their teachers really master the subjects they would teach and spend at least a year mastering the craft of teaching.  They provided an extended period of mentoring for new teachers under the supervision of master teachers.  They provided strong support for the continuing development of their existing teaching force.  They constructed real career ladders for teachers and paid them well.  They wrote very demanding standards for the achievement of their students, incorporating the kinds of skills needed to succeed in the world’s most advanced economies, developed a strong curriculum to match those standards and invested in very high quality assessments based on that curriculum.  They strengthened their vocational and technical education systems and developed their applied learning systems to provide expanded opportunities for students to enter the adult world with confidence, skill, experiences and connections that would enable them to become productive and fulfilled. 

Not least important, they provided their ministries of education with the authority and resources they needed to lead and implement this extraordinarily complicated dance.

They neither blew up their system nor did they retreat into the delusion that they could just turn the clock back to get the results they wanted.  They did the hard work on the obvious tasks.

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