WHERE THE PISA GAPS ARE: Large gaps within the American scores!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016

Part 2 in this series

Part 3—The shape of our demographics: In December 2012, results were released from the latest quadrennial administration of the TIMSS and the PIRLS.

This latest testing had occurred in 2011. As we noted yesterday, American students had performed rather well as compared to their peers around the world. Unless you read the New York Times, where Motoko Rich's news report started like this, gloomy headline included:
RICH (12/11/12): U.S. Students Still Lag Globally In Math and Science, Tests Show

Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science,
although American fourth graders are closer to the top performers in reading, according to test results released on Tuesday.

Fretting about how American schools compare with those in other countries has become a regular pastime in education circles. Results from two new reports, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, are likely to fuel further debate.

South Korea and Singapore led the international rankings in math and fourth-grade science, while Singapore and Taiwan had the top-performing students in eighth-grade science. The United States ranked 11th in fourth-grade math, 9th in eighth-grade math, 7th in fourth-grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science.

Although the average scores among American students were not significantly lower than the top performers, several nations far outstripped the United States in the proportion of students who scored at the highest levels on the math and science tests.
"Several nations" did that! The New York Times was finding ways to see the glass slightly empty.

Technically, nothing in that passage is flatly false. Everything in that passage can perhaps be defended as technically accurate, although the claim about "lagging behind some European nations" was a substantial stretch.

Yesterday, we showed you how USA Today reported those same test results. The more plebeian, multi-hued newspaper saw the glass 90 percent full as it reviewed these newest international scores. Hewing to establishment narrative, the New York Times seemed to see the glass 10 percent empty.

Gloom-and-doom frameworks routinely prevail when the American press reports on American schools. In our view, the New York Times went a bit overboard in its gloomy assessment of those TIMSS scores. That said, when the latest PISA scores were released—those from the 2012 testing—American students performed less well as compared to the rest of the world.

Yesterday, we reviewed the achievement gaps which obtained on the 2012 PISA. That is to say, we looked at the international achievement gaps—the gaps which obtained between American kids (in the aggregate) and their peers from other countries.

On the PISA math test, American students performed less well than their counterparts in almost all comparable countries. On this second major testing program, American students stacked up less well than they had on the TIMSS and the PIRLS.

What explains the difference performances on these two testing programs? That question lies beyond the scope of this series. We'll only the note the heavier weight given by the American press to results from the PISA.

As in Amanda Ripley's high-profile book, The Smartest Kids in the World, American journalists tend to discuss the less impressive American results from the PISA while disappearing the more impressive results from the TIMSS and the PIRLS. This tends to advance a gloomy portrait of the way our schools stack up as compared to the rest of the world.

That said, substantial gaps obtained on the PISA between American students and some of their peers in the rest of the world. That was especially true on the PISA math test. But those are the international gaps. For today, we'll review the domestic achievement gaps which obtained on the 2012 PISA and on the 2011 TIMSS.

We refer to the gaps which obtained between different groups of American students on these international tests. It's painful to review these gaps, but they help us see the shape of our ongoing educational challenges.

Let's start with the PISA reading test, where the average score of American students basically matched the OECD average. Because Finland is so often used as a basis for international comparisons, we'll include that nation's scores in all the presentations which follow.

How did different groups of American students score on that test? When we "disaggregate" the American data, painful domestic gaps appear, although one other gap narrows:
Average scores, reading literacy, 2012 PISA
Finland: 524
United States, white students: 519
United States: 498
United States, Hispanic students: 478
United States, black students: 443
Over the past dozen years, Finland has been relentlessly praised, within the press, for its miraculous public schools. Routinely, journalists have flown to Finland for a week of brainwashing by Finland's education ministry, whose love of propaganda is the one negative trait we know about in that small, distant middle-class land.

Finland has been endlessly praised for its superlative schools. That said, white students in the U.S. essentially matched their peers in Finland on this particular test. In her PISA-friendly book, Ripley seems to say that thirty points on the PISA scale is roughly equal to one academic year. A five-point gap on the PISA scale is a rather modest amount.

On this test, a rather small gap obtained between white American students and their Finnish peers. That said, large gaps obtained between those white American students and their black and Hispanic American peers.

Those painful domestic achievement gaps help define our ongoing educational challenge. What explains their existence?

For ourselves, we'd start with American history. Our benighted ancestors spent several centuries trying to eliminate literacy from the black population. Their horrible efforts failed, but a nation can't spend centuries engaged in such demented practices without reaping the effects of what it so brutally sowed.

For ourselves, we'd start with American history. Other people will suggest other explanations for those large domestic achievement gaps—explanations involving current educational policies and current social practices.

The attempt to explain those punishing gaps lies beyond the scope of this series. We'll continue to explore the domestic and the international gaps in the remaining reports in this series, including such factors as poverty rates and immigration practices.

That said, equally painful domestic gaps obtained on the other PISA tests in 2012. White students were at least within hailing distance of their peers in Finland, where almost every student hails from the majority ethnicity and culture. Black and Hispanic students lagged far behind:
Average scores, math literacy, 2012 PISA
Finland: 519
United States, white students: 506
United States: 481
United States, Hispanic students: 455
United States, black students: 421

Average scores, science literacy, 2012 PISA
Finland: 545
United States, white students: 528
United States: 497
United States, Hispanic students: 462
United States, black students: 439
Those domestic gaps are painful and large. To the extent that anyone cares, they define a very large part of our ongoing educational challenge.

In Finland, almost every student comes from the majority culture. There's very little child poverty. As we'll note in detail tomorrow, there were very few immigrant kids in Finland's student population when these PISA tests occurred.

In the United States, white students—those from the "majority culture"—lagged behind their Finnish peers on the PISA, but not by gigantic amounts. The larger gaps obtained between different groups of American kids, those from our largest population groups.

So far, we've been looking at the gaps which obtained on the 2012 PISA. That said, the United States and Finland had participated, one year before, on the TIMSS and PIRLS.

In our view, what's sauce for the PISA is sauce for the TIMSS. Here's the way the results broke down on the TIMSS math tests:
Average scores, Grade 4 math, 2011 TIMSS
United States, white students: 559
Finland: 545
United States: 541
United States, Hispanic students: 520
United States, black students: 489

Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 TIMSS
United States, white students: 530
Finland: 514
United States: 509
United States, Hispanic students: 485
United States, black students: 465
At both grade levels, white students outperformed Finland on the TIMSS math tests. Black and Hispanic students lagged far behind, defining our ongoing challenge to the extent that we care.

Roughly similar patterns obtained on the TIMSS science tests, and on the PIRLS reading test, which is conducted in Grade 4 only.

By the way, those average scores for white students include all American white students. It includes white kids living in poverty in Appalachia. It includes students in certain states whose traditional stress on education may have lagged behind that in some other states. Even with those demographic challenges, white kids in the U.S. outscored Finland on the TIMSS, came fairly close on the PISA.

In our view, these "disaggregated" test results speak to two basic issues. For starters, they help us see the foolishness of the past dozen years of Finland public school chic.

Let's assume that Finland has wonderful schools. There may be lessons that someone can learn from such schools. But the heart of our educational challenge is built in the populations which don't really exist in Finland—populations affected by our brutal racial history, by our higher incidence of poverty, by the low-income immigration practices which don't exist in Finland.

When American journalists fly to Finland, they can't see such challenges addressed. By and large, such challenges don't exist there.

In our view, these data start to point to the foolishness of Finland chic. Beyond that, the punishing domestic achievement gaps found in these basic data helps us see where our challenges lie.

Can we learn how to address those challenges by having our journalists party in Finland? Tomorrow, we'll look at what Amanda Ripley wrote in her widely-praised book about Finland's alleged success with its immigrant kids.

We're not sure we've ever seen a bigger journalistic con in such a high-profile text. Truly, there's nothing elites won't say and do to advance their narrative about our sad embarrassing schools and the horrible terrible pitiful children and adults within them.

Tomorrow: Immigration here and there

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for your miracle Doctor Osemu Okpamen

    This article is dedicated to the Doctor Osemu Okpamen. I have been married with my wife for 5 years and recently she broke up with me and it hurt me deeply when she told me to leave her alone and that she does not love me anymore when i was always faithful and honest to her. I tried all the ways to get her back buying her what she wants like i always did and she still left me heart broken and she even has a new boyfriend which destroyed me even more until a friend of mine from high school directed me to this genuine spell Doctor called Osemu Okpamen. This man changed my life completely. I followed everything he told me to do and my wife came back begging for me back. I was stunned everything happened exactly like he told me. I had faith in everything he told me and everything was true. Also he was there every moment until i got my happiness back and he also provides spells that cures any diseases & sickness. You could contact him via email at { Doctorokpamenspelltemple@yahoo.com } or visit his website http://www.doctorokpamenspells.com or reach him on +1 (914)-517-3229, +2348135254384. He will help you in anything you need and quick to answer once you contact him.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Are you going through a Break Up? Divorce? or your husband moved to another woman? do not cry anymore,contact Dr .Unity now? I was hurt and heart broken when my husband breakup with me, and i could not know what next to do again, I love my husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him break up with me so that he can be able to get marred to the other lady and this lady i think use witchcraft on my husband to make him hate me and my kids and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helper to get back my man until i went to Texas to see a friend and who was having the same problem with me but she latter got her husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster called Dr.Unity that help with love spell in getting back lost lover back, and i decided to contact the same Dr.Unity and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 28hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me and i still doubted his word, to my surprise my husband really called me and told me that he miss me so much, Oh My God! i was so excited, and today i am happy with my man again and we are joyfully living together as one big family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr.Unity for bringing back my man and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.Unity is best spell caster online who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, If you have any problem contact Dr.Unity and i guarantee you that he will help you,Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,you can also call him or add him on whats-app: +2348071622464,visit his website:http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your miracle Doctor Osemu Okpamen

    This article is dedicated to the Doctor Osemu Okpamen. I have been married with my wife for 5 years and recently she broke up with me and it hurt me deeply when she told me to leave her alone and that she does not love me anymore when i was always faithful and honest to her. I tried all the ways to get her back buying her what she wants like i always did and she still left me heart broken and she even has a new boyfriend which destroyed me even more until a friend of mine from high school directed me to this genuine spell Doctor called Osemu Okpamen. This man changed my life completely. I followed everything he told me to do and my wife came back begging for me back. I was stunned everything happened exactly like he told me. I had faith in everything he told me and everything was true. Also he was there every moment until i got my happiness back and he also provides spells that cures any diseases & sickness. You could contact him via email at { Doctorokpamenspelltemple@yahoo.com } or visit his website http://www.doctorokpamenspells.com or reach him on +1 (914)-517-3229, +2348135254384. He will help you in anything you need and quick to answer once you contact him.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Life is good when you have your love ones around you, I am saying this because when i had issues with my lover i never seen life as a good thing but thanks to Dr. AGBAZARA of AGBAZARA TEMPLE, for helping me to cast a spell that brought my lover back to me within the space of 48hours. My husband left me for another woman after 7YEARS of marriage,but Dr.AGBAZARA help me cast a spell that brought him back to me within 48hours. I am not going to tell you more details about myself rather i will only advise those who are having issues in there relationship or marriages to contact Dr.AGBAZARA TEMPLE through these details via; ( agbazara@gmail.com) or call him on Whatsapp: +2348104102662

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so grateful to this man just incase you also need him to help you, you can contact him through his Website: http://greatdrogudugusolutiontemple.webs.com

    ReplyDelete