Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PISA Finland a Great Line

From Education Week-Curriculum Matters:

"In every aspect, the challenge [for the U.S.] is getting deeper to the next level of knowledge," said Andreas Schleicher, the head of the indicators and analysis division of the OECD Directorate for Education, who was presenting.

There was a lot of chatter about Finland, which doesn't really use standardized tests for accountability, has an extremely strong teaching force, and little variation between the best and the worst schools.

But one interesting thing happened when a woman named Sirkku Kupianinen, a researcher with the Center for Education Assessment at the University of Helsinki who was serving on the panel responding to Mr. Schleicher's comments, gave her remarks.

Ms. Kupianinen said she felt awkward at all the attention her country's been given, particularly since Finland's system runs almost entirely on trust and is nearly devoid of the external accountability benchmarks used in other countries "I feel like the whole country has been raised to a miracle based on the results of this one test," she said about PISA.

What's more, despite Finland's strong showing in math on the test, academics in her country have been raising some fairly strong "cows" about the level of math education among students. "They say it's going down like the tail of a cow," she said. (Really, she did say that, and man, what a great expression. I'm officially appropriating it.) "Then PISA comes out, and math professors just stopped believing in PISA as ... a measure of what Finnish children can do," she said.

And her concern? That countries will start trying to encourage "teaching to the test" for PISA, by modifying curricula and so forth to resemble that test's tasks, which require students to synthesize knowledge. Publishers in Germany, she said, have already released books of "PISA-like" items.


Anonymous said...

If you had a choice between teaching to tests? Which would you choose? The Wasl or the Pisa? I wonder how much it costs to give the Pisa?

Americans are sortof behind and backward...

Anonymous said...

I think this applies here in the US too but another misconception applies as well - our so-called education leaders confuse teaching to a test with teaching to a standard.

What this teacher from Finland is saying is we shouldn't be teaching to a test either.

The US educators confuse apples with chickens? Like professors who are asking which comes first the apple or the egg? After all, both are smooth and round so it must have something to do with learning. Are they blind too?

Spellman: Forcing one curriculum on all 50 states would contradict both tradition and the American Constitution, which places most responsibilities for education in the hands of state and local governments and administrators."

This is wrongheaded from a legal standpoint. Here's why. If the burden of proving discrimination is a federal concern. Communities that unwisely discriminate against certain groups of children by knowingly choosing poor curriculum (computational based instruction with graphing calculators) are using a loophole in the law.

While their decision serves to 'whiten' communities, the consequences are a disaster academically and socially for them.

Presently, making schools successful are not the feds responsibility. Listening to Spellman, if a community chooses to self-destruct that is their own business.

I would ask then so why should the feds build a better standard? If it doesn't create better textbooks.

In other countries the process is reversed. When you buy a textbook, you are buying a complete curriculum (standards, textbook, and assessment). This is not true in other countries.

Government-run schools with government textbooks (as opposed to community-based schools in the US who adopt textbooks) don't promote people socially. Instead students matriculate (they promote when they pass their end of course examinations.

In Finland and Singapore! Students honestly enjoy learning because the textbooks are readable and challenge children's ability to reason.

US schools promote students because schools 'remediate' students (teach the standards) - this has nothing to do with achievement.

What it boils down to, is this, most kids dislike school because schools spend more time reteaching and less time preparing them academically.

US education is a catastrophe and largely the failure boils down to textbooks.

The feds have very little to contribute positively toward school and I expect they will say less in the future.

For example, NCLB is a piece of self-serving legislation that will only drive more students out of school.

It is a pathetic government that squanders more dollars on Iraq per capita than on educating its own people. Next they'll be recruiting foreign-educated students to go fight our wars so they can become US citizens. That's already happenning!