WHERE THE TEST SCORES ARE: Final week in five-week series begins tomorrow!

MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2016

For today, a preview:
Tomorrow, we start the final week in our award-winning five-week series, Where the Test Scores Are.

This week's reports will carry this title: Where the Challenges Are. We'll focus on the journalistic challenges—on the journalistic practices which keep the public from gaining a clear-eyed view of the apparent status of American students, teachers and schools.

That said, how do our schools seem to measure up, as compared to schools in the rest of the world? For today, we'll offer one set of data as a bit of an intellectual challenge.

Below, you see the way one set of American students performed on one international test. In fairness, we're cherry-picking a bit:

We've selected the largest subgroup of American students. And we've selected the one subtest on which American students performed least well, in the aggregate, in the most recent round of international testing for which we have data.

In recent years, journalists and "education experts" have had two sets of international data on which they could draw. They could draw on three subtests from the 2012 PISA, a program which tests 15-year-old students in reading, math and science; on four subtests from the 2011 TIMSS; which tests students from Grade 4 and Grade 8 in math and science; and on one subtest from the 2011 PIRLS, which tests Grade 4 students in reading.

(Results from the 2015 TIMSS and the 2015 PISA should be released by the end of this year.)

Of those eight subtests, American students performed least well, in the aggregate, on the PISA math test. A cynic might claim that this explains why you see that one subtest cited most often among the eight.

Let's eschew such rank speculation! Below, you see the way one group of American students performed on that one subtest, the worst subtest of the eight. To help you assess the meaning of the scores you'll see, consider a rule of thumb:

In an endnote to her 2013 book, The Smartest Kids in the World, Amanda Ripley wrote that 39 points on the PISA scale "is considered the equivalent of one year of formal schooling."

Ripley worked closely with PISA World in writing her book. You should consider that rule of thumb in assessing the scores you see below—scores from the one subtest on which American students performed least well.

We include the three Asian test score superpowers, and the other large developed nations. Among smaller nations, we include miraculous Finland, the subject of vast amounts of American journalism:
Average scores, math literacy, 2012 PISA
Taiwan: 560
South Korea: 554
Japan: 536
Finland: 519
Canada: 518
Poland: 518
Germany: 514
United States, white students only: 506
Australia: 504
France: 495
United Kingdom: 494
Italy: 485
Spain: 484
Russia: 482
For a fuller set of scores, click this.

On this, their worst of those eight subtests, white kids in the United States scored thirteen points behind the miraculous children of Finland. Applying Ripley's rule of thumb, we can draw this rough conclusion:

At the age of 15, white students in the U.S. lagged their counterparts in Finland by the equivalent of 12 weeks' instruction! (One-third of an 180-day school year).

That was the gap on the PISA math test. On the PISA reading test, the gap with Finland was only five points. On the TIMSS and the PIRLS, white students in the U.S. tended to outperform Finland. On this basis, we pose a question:

On the basis of these data, can anybody justify the past dozen years of journalistic Finland chic, which now threatens to expand into Estonia chic?

On that PISA math test, white kids in the U.S. were outscored by the Asian tigers to a substantial degree (as was the rest of the world). But they weren't outscored by Finland by much—and on other major international tests, they weren't outscored by Finland at all.

Dearly propagandized, let's try to understand the basis for our own comparison, in which we're presenting the average score for our white students only.

White students in the U.S. are what we'd call "majority culture." They come from the majority so-called race. Especially on an historical basis, they hail from their country's dominant culture.

In Finland, virtually everyone fits this description! There are very few immigrant kids. There is very little child poverty. There is no "racial minority"—no group whose ancestors were subjected to centuries of brutal mistreatment, including an attempt to eliminate literacy from their group altogether.

In our view, that chart helps us understand where our educational challenges lie. Presumably, American schools could do a better job, in a million ways, with the nation's white students. Beyond that, the nation's white students, like the rest of the world, have in fact been outperformed on international tests, to a substantial degree, by kids in the three Asian tigers.

That said:

Once we "disaggregate" American scores, it's hard to know why American journalists keep denigrating American teachers and schools on the basis of endless, all-expenses-paid comparisons to the teachers and schools of Finland.

By almost all accounts, Finland is a very nice place to live. It's a sane, well-ordered country. (It provides universal health care at very low cost, a fact you'll never see reported, explained or analyzed in your favorite American newspaper.)

That said, Finland is a small, unicultural, middle-class nation with very few immigrant kids, no historically targeted group, and very little child poverty. As in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, all its kids are "majority culture!" And we're sorry, but when it comes to "majority culture" kids, Finland doesn't seem to outperform the United States by much, if it does so at all. In our view, it's surprising to see how mediocre Finland's performance can start to seem when we disaggregate American scores in this painful but instructive way.

In our view, those data help us see where the largest chunks of our nation's educational challenges lie. But alas! In our view, the challenges posed by our press corps tend to keep us from gaining a clear view of these facts.

Starting tomorrow, we'll ponder those challenges all week. Our history and our social practices present us with major educational challenges. Our "press corps" creates journalistic challenges which are at least as large.

Starting tomorrow: Where the Challenges Are! (There may be some repetition.)

42 comments:

  1. The goal of educating our nation's children is not to win international contests comparing test scores. It is to prepare our kids to be citizens and support themselves while pursuing their goals in our diverse nation.

    On that basis, our schools are not doing particularly well. First they have produced a populace that finds Trump a reasonable candidate. Second, millennials do not appear to be less likely to vote for someone like Trump and appear less likely to vote at all. Third, based on Kevin Drum's recent columns, young men are too busy playing video games and taking pain meds to participate in the workforce. Fourth, ability to think critically and understand the basic facts of living in this world does not seem to have been acquired by any large proportion of our kids -- witness Bill Maher's claim that 80% of the nation thinks Ramadan is a noodle.

    I believe our schools are failing at their job. More testing isn't going to change that because the tests are not measuring the skills needed to succeed in life.

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    1. Your stated goal of our schools is so vague, it is essentially meaningless. Clearly our schools are not failing - they are teaching reading and math skills comparable to any other advanced nation. Our children are being failed by society. Our citizens' energies are being sapped by the wealthy. Teaching our children to be cutthroat competitors in a dog-eat-dog world is not the answer.

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    2. I didn't suggest that we must teach our children to compete. I suggested that we teach them to think critically so they are not taken in by someone like Trump.

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  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/high-school-graduation-rate_us_580417dce4b0e8c198a8d061?section=&

    The schools must be doing something right if our graduation rates are increasing.

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    Replies
    1. If lowering standards to increase graduation rates is "right."

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  3. Parallels between Trump and the Nazis continue. Today's National Memo says:

    "makes this Orange County, North Carolina firebombing all the more suspicious — aside from the fact that the Orange County GOP is non-existent in elections — is the fact that Donald Trump began “tweeting” about the bombing moments within hours after it happened, blaming “Hillary Clinton supporters” and “Democrats” without any shred of evidence. In fact, every single Democrat or Hillary supporter I’ve encountered in North Carolina is gravely concerned about doing everything the law provides to prevent violence in this election.



    Trump’s feigned hysteria carries the acrid stench of another famous fire: the one in the German Reichstag, started by the Nazi party of Adolph Hitler during the German national elections of 1933, and then blamed on the Communists. The Reichstag Fire was immediately pounced upon by Nazi leaders as “evidence” of terror from the left, proving the need for the authoritarian rule their leader promised. It was instrumental in leading to the election of Hitler as German Chancellor, despite the lack of any evidence to buttress the Nazis’ wild claims.

    Eventually, the facts about this fire-bombing will come out, and justice will be meted out to the perpetrators of the crime. Until then, it’s reasonable to wonder why Democrats would have anything to do with attacking an opposition party headquarters that has been dormant for years."

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    1. Violent thugs like Hillary's black lives matter have been responsible for all of the the buildings set afire in recent protests. Not much thought has gone into the selection of buildings. If a CVS is fair game to this element then a GOP headquarters is.

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    2. Hitler was appoint4d chancellor 30 January 1933. The Reichstag fire was 27 February 1933, practically a month later. Thus it was not during the election campaign and did not help Hitler become chancellor.

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    3. It helped him purge political enemies who were blamed for the attack.

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  4. The reason the media refuses to accurately portray the state of education in the country is obvious: they don't want to show white vs. non-white scores any more than they want to state facts about race and IQ. They're deeply dedicated to browning this country, and if the population begins to realize that doing so creates massive challenges for our schools and is dysgenic to our gene pool, well, people might start to question what this program is all about in the first place.

    And trust me, they don't want that. So, the teachers and the schools take the bullet. Small sacrifice in their overall goal of tearing down white supremacy. Not unlike the thousands of girls victimized by Muslim grooming gangs in the UK. Facts that might slow down or prevent the browning of white nations simply won't be reported. Whites are given the mushroom treatment as the program to make them minorities in their own nations operates: fed shit, and kept in the dark.

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    1. Despite the so-called "browning" of our country, school test scores continue to improve for both brown and white students, and the gap between the two continues to narrow, albeit slowly. There is no evidence that intellectual capacity is genetic, beyond the individual differences that exist within all subgroups of people, individual differences that swamp any group differences in means.

      While you and your brethren might feel some panic at the thought of mingling with other people, including those more brown than you, there is no reason why the media would conceal a state that you claim is consistent with their goals.

      It must be horrible to go through life feeling so inferior on a personal level that one must affiliate with a white racial group and assert its superiority over others, just to keep from feeling like shit. It seems cheaper to buy a Raiders team jersey -- you can achieve the same ego-boosting effect and get to watch a few games too.

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    2. > There is no evidence that intellectual capacity is genetic, beyond the individual differences that exist within all subgroups of people, individual differences that swamp any group differences in means.

      In fact, all available evidence makes it clear intellectual capacity is genetic. Adoption studies make it clear that the child's genes are more important than his environment. What there's zero evidence for is the tabula rasa theory.

      > While you and your brethren might feel some panic at the thought of mingling with other people, including those more brown than you, there is no reason why the media would conceal a state that you claim is consistent with their goals.

      Sure there is. They're in on it. As is Academia. Robert Putnam did an extensive study to determine the benefits of diversity. When it was all said and done, he was forced to conclude that diversity worsened quality of life in proportion to how diverse the community was. What did he do? He sat on the study, hoping to find some way to change that state of affairs. He released it only when a random journalist betrayed his trust and outed the findings.

      It's a religion. The modern religion of equalitarianism.

      > It must be horrible to go through life feeling so inferior on a personal level that one must affiliate with a white racial group and assert its superiority over others, just to keep from feeling like shit. It seems cheaper to buy a Raiders team jersey -- you can achieve the same ego-boosting effect and get to watch a few games too.

      What must really be bad is to not be able to defend one's religion, so that one is forced to psychoanalyze those presenting hate-facts that undermine central tenets of the faith.

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    3. Individual differences have a genetic basis but groups do not.

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    4. Ridiculous. Obviously, groups work with gene pools.

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    5. Hey 3:46,

      You asked "How does one even counter the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study?"

      And Anonymous @2:55 took you down hard:
      "How does one counter the fact that non-disadvantaged black children from African and Caribbean countries do as well or better than white children? This is also true for immigrant children in the US. There is no legacy of slavery and systematic suppression of literacy for such children and their expectations, views about the value of education and literacy, and parenting practices are different due to their different culture.

      How does one counter Claude Steele's work on the damaging effects of stereotype threat on testing, which affects black but not white children?

      The cited Minnesota transracial adoption study can be readily countered by pointing out that too many influences on academic performance were not well-controlled in the study. For example, the study notes that age at adoption was correlated with IQ and that children with two black parents were adopted at much more advanced ages in the study. That means they spent early formative years elsewhere and there is no info about what happened to them early on. That could account for the decreased IQ scores. The results of this particular study do not agree with other similar studies, so you have cherry picked."

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    6. There are no reliably correlated sets of genes that map neatly onto the social construct of race. That is a biological fact. Further, there are no identified sets of genes responsible for IQ. There are certain genes that produce abnormalities that affect IQ, but there are no intelligence genes identified at this point. IQ is an abstract concept that is not operationalized in any set of genes.

      Interestingly, the traits that enhanced survival before written literacy emerged (as a result of culture) are very different than those tested on today's IQ tests. They are more closely related to athletics. How would that affect your ideas about racial superiority?

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    7. The Caribbean countries do indeed have a "legacy of slavery".

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    8. Right, but they didn't spend centuries trying to suppress black literacy and there is not a black subculture that denigrates education, among other differences.

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    9. > Right, but they didn't spend centuries trying to suppress black literacy and there is not a black subculture that denigrates education, among other differences.

      Nor did the US. To the extent that even happened, it mostly happened after slave uprisings. It certainly wasn't universal or even particularly common.

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    10. > There are no reliably correlated sets of genes that map neatly onto the social construct of race. That is a biological fact. Further, there are no identified sets of genes responsible for IQ.

      I mean, so? There's more we don't know about genetics than what we do know.

      > There are certain genes that produce abnormalities that affect IQ, but there are no intelligence genes identified at this point. IQ is an abstract concept that is not operationalized in any set of genes.

      Sure, but so what? We may not know the particular genes, and we know a limited amount about how gene expression works. But we nevertheless know that IQ is largely genetic.

      > Interestingly, the traits that enhanced survival before written literacy emerged (as a result of culture) are very different than those tested on today's IQ tests. They are more closely related to athletics. How would that affect your ideas about racial superiority?

      Who said anything about superiority? Superiority depends totally on what you mean by "superior." In the context of scholastic performance or law-abiding, US whites are superior to US blacks. But there's no objective way to qualify them as superior in any objective sense.

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    11. At 10:31 you are ignoring segregated schools.

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    12. 10:31 - "Nor did the US", huh? We certainly did. Slaves were universally and commonly prevented from learning how to read.

      10:35 you are a nut full of misleading info. Nature vs nurture has long since been dismissed since both have an impact. The IQ correlation you refer to in adoption studies washes away by adolescence. There really is no way to measure individual intelligence in any meaningful way.

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  5. As always you are being important and illuminating. Sadly, the average American parent, educated or not, just doesn't want to support public schools whatever the facts. Teachers remain under siege.

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  6. One more thing. This argument:

    >beyond the individual differences that exist within all subgroups of people, individual differences that swamp any group differences in means.

    Is made all the time, and is ludicrous. The range in heights among caucasians is far greater than the difference in average heights of caucasians and Chinese. But if 10M Chinese immigrate to the US, that's going to lower average heights. It's no different with IQ. It doesn't matter one whit that there's more variability in IQ among individual ethnic groups than there is between averages of those groups.

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    1. IQ was invented by people who wanted to sterilize people they deemed unfit. It is a sham.

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    2. Your argument about Chinese heights is ridiculous, especially since heights vary considerably with nutrition. 10M would be a drop in the bucket in the US population and would have a minuscule impact on the national mean height. For practical purposes it would make no difference at all.

      Same with IQ. Education and life experience means more than talent, and hard work tops both. Plus some good luck and help from friends. Your concerns about "purity" mask psychological anxieties worth exploring with a good therapist.

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    3. IQ was invented by Galton, who also measured height, weight and lots of other individual differences among people. He was embedded in a culture that considered IQ a trait of the upper classes, but he never confused group means with individual variability. He was also NOT in favor of forced sterilization, although he did favor voluntary eugenics. He applied the normal distribution to human variability and developed the idea of correlation.

      People who wanted to sterilize others included Goddard (and American) and Hitler. They misused concepts of heritability to persecute people with lower SES, including the white trash now ironically most attracted to such ideas (e.g., Kallikaks and similar hillbilly extended families).

      IQ testing is not a sham. it is the means whereby we have established that black and white kids have closely similar intelligence and that the gaps are closing.

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    4. > IQ testing is not a sham. it is the means whereby we have established that black and white kids have closely similar intelligence and that the gaps are closing.

      You're right about the first part, wrong about the second. Blacks reach peak IQ faster, and thus do better at young ages. But as adults, they're back to being a standard deviation lower.

      The notion that IQ is a "sham" is obviously disproved by the strong correlation between IQ and all sorts of statistical information having to do with well-being.

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    5. > Your argument about Chinese heights is ridiculous, especially since heights vary considerably with nutrition.

      Doesn't matter. Regardless of nutrition, Chinese are smaller than Caucasians.


      > 10M would be a drop in the bucket in the US population and would have a minuscule impact on the national mean height. For practical purposes it would make no difference at all.

      That's not the point. The point is, it would reduce mean height. Just as more blacks and mestizos will reduce mean IQ.

      > Same with IQ. Education and life experience means more than talent, and hard work tops both.

      Stats say no. IQ has a stronger correlation with success than other such factors. Sorry about reality.

      > Plus some good luck and help from friends. Your concerns about "purity" mask psychological anxieties worth exploring with a good therapist.

      Ah, more armchair psychoanalysis! There definitely is something to say about in-group preference and nepotism, as Jewish dominance of the media shows. I'll give you that! (Oh, and that one time the Irish Catholics did it, as Somerby points out endlessly).

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    6. Chinese kids in California are not shorter. You need to explain why California kids are taller than kids in other states, regardless of race.

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    7. Silly person says "Stats say no. IQ has a stronger correlation with success than other such factors. Sorry about reality.
      "

      This is wrong. IQ studies offer a very limited view on intelligence and success, which are very complex and can not be boiled down to statistics. Also IQ studies show that personality traits correlate to success as much as IQ. IQ studies do indicate a connection with academic success; however, academic success does not correlate with adult success.

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    8. Hear, hear, 1:44am!

      Dear silly person who has been hoodwinked by the notion of IQ,

      Why is it measured on a real number scale? Try to answer the question, "why isn't IQ measured with complex numbers?," and you will quickly realize that the entire notion of IQ is ridiculous.

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    9. Complex numbers have nothing to do with test scoring or defining the complexities of human life. You continue to be silly and make ridiculous arguments that support the notion you are misinformed about the subject of IQ.

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  7. The alt-right stench is strong today.

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    Replies
    1. Oooh! That pesky reality! I liked it so much more when everyone was brow-beaten to pretend all ethnic groups were fundamentally the same, and no one was free to point out obvious facts! Damn you, Drumpf!

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    2. Stinkers gotta stink.

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  8. Suggesting that only US history accounts for the differences between ethnicities is racist in its own special way. The US should strive to develop students to their potential, but differences between aptitudes exist and as long as there is focus on score differences, IQ differences should be discussed openly without hiding behind history as the only factor explaining them. The only reason this would be painful to minorities with lower IQ is that IQism is a prejudice that the racist left in particular loves to promote and engage in.

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    1. Alice Eagley shows that emphasizing talent instead of hard work has worse academic outcomes. The more you discuss IQ, the more you undermine all kids achievement. This is something the academic tiger countries do right.

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  9. My husband and I have been together for almost 7 years, married for almost 4 years. We have a son that just turned 4. We got together and married young, I am 33 and he is 40. Over the years we have had many issues, including infidelity, a 6 month separation, and he said to me he wanted to get a divorce many times. I don’t necessarily have an issue getting over the past, it is his continued present behavior that keeps me wondering if he will ever change, ever mature, or be the husband and father I need him to be. he filed for divorce August 2014, but i refused to sign the papers coz i love him so much. I allowed the case to be dismissed, maybe to see if he will ever change. I have so many doubts and I am not sure which way to turn. I can not invest 100% into this marriage because I was so afraid to be disappointed all over again. I am afraid he has be cheating on me, I love him, but there are definitely no romantic feelings toward him, the feelings that made me fall in love with him in the first place. I felt so comfortable with him in my life, he makes me laugh, he’s playful, caring and attentive, on the other hand he has an anger problem, is negative, can be immature most of the time, argues with me constantly, and I don’t trust him. coz he use to cheat on me, i love my husband so much and also i want to save my marriage from divorce. so i cry to a friend of my, who told me to warp my tears, that there is a solution to my problem. so she introduce to me Dr happy a real spell caster that help to fight, stop marriage divorce and relationship problem also get ex back. so i give him a try and with-in 2day my problem with my husband was solve and ok, me and my husband and family and happily living great all thank to Dr happy you can reach him on happylovespell2@gmail.com or still call and Whats-pp him on +2348133873774 Thanks Sandra Katie from Usa California

    ReplyDelete
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