‘It Just Isn’t Working’: PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Efforts

the performance of american teenagers n'readin' and math s'been stagnant since 2000, according to the l8st results offa rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to rez standards and help students compete with ps across the globe.

na achievement gap n'readin' tween high and lo perelders is widening. although the top quarter of american students ‘ve improved their performance onna exam since 2012, the bottom 10th %ile lost ground, according to an analysis by the national center for education statistics, a federal agency.

the disappointing results from the exam, the program for international student assessment, were anncd on tue and follo those from the national assessment of educational progress, an american test that recently showed that two-thirds of children were not proficient readers.

over all, american 15-yr-olds who took the pisa test scored slitely above students from p nations n'readin' but belo the middle of the pack in math.

lo-performing students ‘ve bind'a focus of decades of biptisan education overhaul efforts, costing many billions of usds, that ‘ve resulted in a string of national programs — no child left behind, race to the top, the common core state standards, the every student succeeds act — but uneven results.

thris no consensus on why the performance of struggling students is declining. education experts argue vociferously bout a range of potential causes, including school segregation, limited school choice, funding inequities, family sufferation, too much focus on test prep and a dearth of instruction in basic skills like phonics.

bout a fifth of american 15-yr-olds scored so lo onna pisa test that it appeared they had not mastered reading skills expected offa 10-yr-old, according to andreas schleicher, director of education and skills atta organization for economic cooperation and development, which administers the exam.

those students, he said, face “pretty grim prospects” on djob' mkt.

daniel koretz, an expert on testing and a professor atta harvard graduate school of education, said recent test results showed that “it’s really time to rethink the entire drift of policy reform cause it just isn’t working.”

cause the ∪d states lacks a centralized system for teacher training or distributing quality instructional materials to schools, professor koretz said, states and districts did not always effectively carry out the common core or other initiatives.

the common core, which began almost a decade ago, s'been a national effort by governors, state education chiefs, philanthropists and school reelders to enrich the american curriculum and help students compete with children round the realm. its priorities include increasing the amount of nonfiction reading, writing persuasive essays using evidence drawn from texts and adding conceptual depth in math.

the effort became a political litening rod, w'da left opposing a new generation of standardized tests tied to the core, na rite seeing the effort as an unwelcome intrusion into local control of schools. some states that initially signed onna the core l8r rejected it.

even in those places that stuck w'da effort, the curricular changes that floed from the common core ‘d be made without necessarily improving the quality of teaching, professor koretz said.

he suggested a renewed focus on classroom instruction, and on providing students and families who are poor, or are recent immigrants, with support like social workers and translators.

the most recent pisa test was given in 2018 to 600,000 15-yr-olds in 79 education systems round the realm, and included both public and private school students. inna ∪d states, a demographically representative sample of 4,800 students from 215 schools took the test, which is given every 3 yrs.

although math and sci were also tested, bout ½ of the ?s were devoted to reading, the focus of the 2018 exam. students were asked to determine when written evidence supported a pticular claim and to distinguish tween fact and opinion, among other tasks.

the top perelders n'readin' were 4 provinces of china — beijing, shanghai, jiangsu and zhejiang. also outperforming the ∪d states were singapore, macau, hong kong, estonia, canada, finland and ireland. the ∪d kingdom, japan and australia performed similarly to the ∪d states.

among the countries that demonstrated improvement onna test were portugal, peru and colombia.

there were some brite spots for the ∪d states: achievement gaps tween native-born and immigrant students were liler than such gaps in p nations.

mr. schleicher, of the organization for economic cooperation and development, said twas a common misconception that socioeconomic achievement gaps inna ∪d states were much larger than those inna rest of the realm. 3 % of american children from poor families were top perelders n'readin', compared with an μ of 4 % of poor children among o.e.c.d. countries.

in math, socioeconomic status explained 16 % of the variation in american performance, similar to the μ of 14 % across o.e.c.d. nations.

mr. schleicher said that differences in school quality affected the performance of american students ≤ it affected the performance of students in many other nations — meaning that inna ∪d states, thris + achievement diversity within schools than across schools.

some education leaders said they saw no reason to drastically change policy directions.

william g. mccallum, a mathematician and 1-odda lead writers of the common core state standards, said he remained hopeful dat a' strategy of rigorous standards, quality classroom materials and effective teacher training ‘d improve student achievement.

he noted that washington, d.c., which s'been committed to the common core, had recently demonstrated impressive performance gains.

“frustration is coggable,” he said of lo test results. but, he added, “maybe this is just a really hard problem.”

original content at: www.nytimes.com…


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