View Full Version : Evaluation of education in science and mathematics

2003-Aug-20, 04:48 PM
Occasionally a thread comes up where people discuss the dire state of the educational system in teaching math and sciences. From those thread there were usually a lot of anecdotal evidence presented about how such-and-such school was good or this teacher was terrible and so on. I took a bit of time to look for some comprehensive study to see just how bad education is internationally. I found an extensive study called PISA (I think its Program for International Student Assessment).


The 2000 study appeared comprehensive (the full study is over 300 pages) and tested 15 year-olds from numerous countries in various subjects. I'll summarize the Math results and the Science results for the countries that represent most of the BABB posters (US, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany). Because the study gives a range of results at a 95% confidence level, it gives countries a 'best possible' and 'worst possible' ranking.

Note: Japan and Korea took the top two spots in both categories, 32 countries were tested


US, 16th-23rd, 11th-21st
Canada, 5-8, 4-8
UK, 6-10, 3-7
Australia, 4-9, 4-8
Germany, 20-22, 19-23

This study would indicate that while people in the US and Germany might have cause for concern the educational systems of Canada, Australia and the UK appear to do a reasonable job in math and science education, better than some of the horror stories might indicate.

Anyone with any comments? I'd especially like to hear from anyone who may have experience or knowledge of this test and how it was conducted.

2003-Aug-20, 05:06 PM
Interesting! Here (http://www.pisa.oecd.org/Docs/Download/PISAFrameworkEng.pdf) is the pdf file that describes their assessment. The science section is found on pages 61-74. I just printed so I'll have to look it over.

2004-Dec-15, 09:28 PM
I'm bumping this thread since it seems to be the best place to link the 2003 PISA report (http://www.oecd.org/document/28/0,2340,en_2649_201185_34010524_1_1_1_1,00.html) that was recently released. It doesn't look like there have been many changes from the 2000 report although the difference in mean score (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/47/34011082.xls) from the middle-of-the-pack countries is not very large. The report also notes that in many countries there are large discrepancies in scores between individual schools.

2004-Dec-15, 10:01 PM
I think the French-speaking part of Belgium lowers our score considerably. I say this for objective reasons, not because I think I'm better.

Example: we score lower at maths and reading than the Netherlands. At university in the Netherlands, people from Dutch speaking Belgium can skip the first 6 months of math courses without any preliminary exam, just because they know we've all seen the course subjects upto then! Also in language conteests it has been pointed out time and time again that the Belgians are better at it. There is a major difference in education between Dutch and Fench speaking Belgium. Generally, people both in Dutch speaking Belgium and the Netherlandsd agree that the Belgians have better education. The results at the University prove this fact (and teh fact that Belgians are very popular in project groups does this too...).

Also of course, there are indeed large differences between schools.