Want to look great on global education surveys? Only test the top students

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Once again, Shanghai students have outperformed their peers around the world, topping tests of mathematics, reading, and science, in the annual OECD PISA survey of global education. And as before, U.S. students have scored well below average.

One more sign of how China is outcompeting everyone else? Time for more teeth gnashing? Keep this in mind: While the rest of the data aimed at presenting a countrywide picture of performance, that was not case with China. Instead, the PISA results only covered school children in one of China’s richest, most elite cities.

The PISA survey tested more than 510,000 students in 65 “countries and economies,” according to the OECD press release on Dec. 3. (PISA stands for “Programme for International Student Assessment.”) That included a total of 61 countries, the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan, and Shanghai.

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