The highly anticipated results of the 2012 PISA survey of education systems around the world were released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The PISA exam, which tests the proficiency of half a million 15-year-olds in 65 nations and economies across the globe, assesses what and how students are learning and what it takes to build a school system in which the majority of students are high-performing. In addition to academic performance in mathematics, reading, and science, the survey measures educational equity in the participating countries and economies, and evaluates the relationship between student performance and socio-economic status.
The 2012 PISA results find Shanghai-China at the top of the rankings in all three subject areas, with the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above the OECD average in math, this survey’s area of focus. Other top scorers include Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei, and Korea in math; Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Japan, and Korea in reading; and Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Japan, and Finland in science. In comparison with PISA 2009, several countries made significant gains in student performance, including Italy, Poland, Portugal, and the Russian Republic.
PISA's value extends beyond recognizing the world's highest achieving education systems, however. Rather than a competition, the results provide an opportunity for countries to learn from one another about what makes a system thrive. In October, 32 leaders from the Teach For All network visited Shanghai, where Dr. Minxuan Zhang, President of Shanghai Normal University and the director of China’s Center of International Education Study and Consultation, explained that drawing on best practices from around the world has been the key to Shanghai’s success. Just as Shanghai’s system benefited from the positive lessons learned by other nations, by studying the methods and innovations employed by PISA’s highest scorers, all countries can increase the equity and excellence of their own education systems. "Global comparisons show us what is possible in education," explains Teach For All board member and Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's Secretary General, Andreas Schleicher. "They take away excuses from those who are complacent. And they help to set meaningful aspirations in terms of measurable goals achieved by the world’s educational leaders."
Andreas Schleicher will be discussing what can be learned from PISA 2012 via video as part of Making the Grade in Global Education, a panel co-hosted by Teach For All at the Asia Society New York on Tuesday, December 10. Panelists include Teach For All Co-Founder and CEO Wendy Kopp, Teach For China CEO Andrea Pasinetti, President of Teachers College, Columbia University, Susan H. Fuhrman, and Vice President for Education at Asia Society, Tony Jackson. For more information and to register, visit the Asia Society online.