Monday, September 1, 2014

The Economics Behind International Education Rankings

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By Cynthia McCabe

This week’s release of international education rankings placing U.S. students in the middle of the pack for reading and science and below average in math contained few surprises. But what might have been overlooked in the horse race coverage of how the students stacked up is an economic link that further supports the argument that their poverty levels are potentially the most significant factors in their success.

The head of the National Association of Secondary School Principals took a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores compared with the rest of the world’s, overlaying it with the statistics on how many of the tested students are in the government’s free and reduced lunched program for students below the poverty line. Here’s what he found:

* In schools where less than 10 percent of students get free or reduced lunch, the reading score is 551. That would place those U.S. students at No. 2 on the international ranking for reading, just behind Shanghai, China which topped the ranking with a score of 556.

* In schools where 75 percent or more of the students get free or reduced lunch, the reading score was 446. That’s off the bottom of the charts, below last-place Greece’s 483.

Money matters and countless studies have demonstrated a link between parents’ income and students’ test scores.

“These data remind us that U.S. schools do rather well by students who come to school ready to learn, but it’s impossible to ignore the persistent correlation between poverty and performance,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the association (at right). “Once again, we’re reminded that students in poverty require intensive supports to break past a condition that formal schooling alone cannot overcome.”

Tirozzi points out that other nations sort students into professional and labor tracks in early teen years. Not so in the U.S., where educators commit to educating all students and encouraging them to high standards into the high school years.

“The release of the (Program for International Student Assessment) data gives school leaders occasion to recommit to that goal” Tirozzi said. “And we hope policymakers and all with a stake in the success of U.S. schools will take this occasion as well not merely to consider the problem, but to recommit with us to solving it.”

Here’s the full chart of disaggregated U.S. reading score data from the PISA results:

When less than 10 percent of students are free and reduced lunch: 551
10 to 24.9 percent: 527
25 to 49.9 percent: 502
50 to 74.9 percent: 471
75 percent or more: 446
U.S. average: 500
International average: 493

______________________________________________

Building a  Vision for Educational Equality

On Wednesday, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel met with U.S. and global education leaders, including Education International (EI) President Susan Hopgood, Beth King of the World Bank, and Angelo Gavrielatos, president of the Australian Education Union, to discuss strategies on meeting the target of universal, high-quality basic Education For All (EFA) by 2015.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (center) confers with Australian Education Union President Angelo Gavrielatos and Education International President Susan Hopgood.

Sixty-nine million students are without any access to education and many millions more are in dilapidated, overcrowded classroom, sometimes without a trained teacher.

Van Roekel emphasized that elevating the teaching profession around the world – effective recruitment, retention, and development – is absolutely critical for success. According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 10.3 million additional teachers around the world will be needed to reach the EFA targets.

Educational equity and access, as well as human rights, EI President Susan Hopgood explained, are inseparable concepts. EI, the global federation of teachers’ unions, has been a leading global voice in advocating for education equity.

Hopgood also emphasized that teachers unions worldwide must strengthen and sustain partnerships with civic and social justice organizations to meet EFA by 2015.

— Tim Walker

Comments

20 Responses to “The Economics Behind International Education Rankings”
  1. Ken Mortland says:

    The volume of misinterpreted data out there boggles the mind. Tirozzi joins Gerald Bracey (may he rest in peace) and David Berliner in exposing the fallacies of the popular interpretation of data. My hat’s off to Mr. Tirozzi. I intent to share his interpretations throughout my network of contacts.

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  2. Web Designer says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Antonio says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Be says:

    the last comment failed to correctly read and understand that this is not comparing the top 10 percent income student scores with the average income student scores of other countires. This article’s data is showing that student scores on pisa in schools With a Student Population of which Less than 10 percent of the student are below the poverty level score better than students in countries in which the entire population of students is less than 10 percent of their poverty level…. This is totally different from your misunderstanding in which you believe that this data is measuring a population of students who are from the top 10 percent income braket. Maybe you are one of the poor performing students…

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  5. Joy says:

    But then again, this data by the NASSP just precisely proves – why Finland has the best educational system in the world today. Their main goal was that of equality and not excellence. Meaning all students rich or poor, have or the have-nots will have the same quality of good education. Heck, they don’t even have private schools over there.

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  6. Lawton says:

    It is clear that this assessment is using FRM to determine poverty in the U.S. What is the poverty metric used to determine the poverty levels in the other countries to which the U.S. is being compared?

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Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] the results of different analysis by National Association of Secondary Schools Executive Director, Dr. Gerold Tirozzi.  Tirozzi “took a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores compared with the rest of the [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  2. [...] that our students don’t score well on international tests. Well, actually, American students in low-poverty areas scored comparatively well on those tests, but that’s a fact often overlooked in the Conversation. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. [...] The number one factor in deciphering good school from bad: Poverty (3, 4) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. [...] is, however, someone who recognizes that the data is being misinterpreted.  NEAToday published remarks from National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. [...] The Economics Behind International Education Rankings, Cynthia McCabe [...]

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  6. [...] example Dr. Gerold Tirozzi, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary Schools, analyzed the PISA data from the lens of poverty, as measured by the percentage of students receiving government free or reduced lunches.  For [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. [...] that continue to chart “America’s decline” compared to other countries? The truth is, once the scores are disaggregated according to poverty levels, US children score near the top. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  8. [...] example, a 2010 international comparison found that US schools which had fewer than 10 per cent of their students receiving free or reduced [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. [...] example Dr. Gerold Tirozzi, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary Schools, analyzed the PISA data from the lens of poverty, as measured by the percentage of students receiving government free or reduced lunches. For [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. [...] is, however, someone who recognizes that the data is being misinterpreted.  NEAToday published remarks from National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. [...] In addition, there are some assertions in the introduction that are worth questioning.  The authors suggest that American students trail children from other countries in certain subjects (math and science) and further imply that this occurs despite investment in some ELL and special education services among others (3).  Everyone from Shatz and Wilkinson to current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suggest that by falling behind we run the risk of not being competitive on an international level.  In fact one report suggests that the nation faces a serious security risk should we not improve – alternative points of view believe that the security risk notion is severely overstated.  The scores on international testing that have emerged since Shatz and Wilkinson published this work indicate that the United States has made some improvements and is not among the worst-performing developed nations.  Also, when one adjusts score results to include poverty statistics, American students turn out to be in the top two of nations.  So – is it that we need to adopt strategies from homogenous nations such as Finland or perhaps we need to concern ourselves more when a district has over 50% of its students are on free or reduced lunch. [...]

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  12. [...] is, however, someone who recognizes that the data is being misinterpreted.  NEAToday published remarks from National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. [...] is, however, someone who recognizes that the data is being misinterpreted.  NEAToday published remarks from National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. [...] head of the National Association of Secondary School Principals took a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores compared with the rest of the world’s, [...]

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