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Sunday, December 9, 2012

What we can know from PISA

Pisa test results usually stir waves when published and countries complain that their education systems are not up to the mark. This is true in particular for countries with Prussian school systems, like Hungary (which started modernising but is now set to slip back to more rigid solutions). Fewer people take the pain to look behind the results. The European Commission organised recently a conference about performance auditing , and one of the presenters was Andreas Schleicher from the Pisa project of the OECD. He outlined (At 177.17 of the Day 2 the webstream or if this link does not work, select day 2 here ; you can watch his presentation) some results of the analysis which may surprise us: excellent results can be achieved in countries which spend a lot or which spend less (per student) on education, the real question is what this money is used for. Only twenty percent of the variation in results is explained by the amount of money spent. So they looked at how Where teachers are not paid well and technical and infrastructural conditions are weak, the results are worse. This seems plausible. However, this means that there will be larger class sizes for the same amount of money per student. That's why Korea performs better than Luxembourg where they spend both a lot on education and Finland better than the U.S. who both spend less. And this correlation was proven for a lot of other countries as well They bought a lot of tuition time and gave also a lot of time for teachers to develop, so the proportion of teaching time is smaller. Methodology you can hear from 180.00, the comparison from 187.00. Another interesting conclusion, not from that presentation but from the PISA report : Over the period, there was a decline of two percentage points in the share of students in OECD countries who reported that students cannot work well during their reading classes. However, some of the countries with the worst records in this respect showed large improvements. In 2000,69% of students in Israel and 74% of students in Hungary disagreed with the statement that students can “never” or “almost never” work well during their reading classes; by 2009, this proportion had increased to 77% in Israel and 80% in Hungary. And this challenges the traditional truth that class discipline is continuously deteriorating. Instead of conclusion, let me quote also fro the PISA report: "Many of the world’s best-performing education systems have moved from bureaucratic “command and control” environments towards school systems in which the people at the frontline have much more control of the way resources are used, people are deployed, the work is organised and the way in which the work gets done. They provide considerable discretion to school heads and scho ol faculties in determining how resources are allocated, a factor which the report shows to be closely related to school performance when combined with effective accountability systems. And they provide an environment in which teachers work together to frame what they believe to be good practice, conduct field-based research to confirm or disprove the approaches they develop, and then assess their colleagues by the degree to which they use practices proven effective in their classrooms. Last but not least, the most impressive outcome of world-class education systems is perhaps that they deliver highquality learning consistently across the entire education system, such that every student benefits from excellent learning opportunities. To achieve this, they invest educational resources where they can make the greatest difference, they attract the most talented teachers into the most challenging classrooms, and they establish effective spending choices that prioritise the quality of teachers."