The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the West Indies only occasionally participate in the big international school achievement tests, PISA and TIMSS. Fortunately, a number of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have their own test: SACMEQ. (Here are the math scores for SACMEQ III in 2006-2011. SACMEQ IV doesn't appear to have been released yet.)... Read More
The US missed 16% of its expected coverage, which is kind of lousy. Not as bad as Vietnam (51% missing), Mexico (38%), or China (36%), but still ...
From The Spectator: I'm a fan of the giant international PISA tests, but I'm not a huge fan of trusting minor differences between countries or differences over time in one country to support whatever your favorite theory might be. What goes into influencing PISA scores is extremely complicated and murky, and I'm far from convinced... Read More
With Puerto Rico in the news for threatening to go broke, Paul Krugman is worried that hedge funds want to "destroy the island’s education system in the name of fiscal responsibility." But it turns out that Puerto Rican school administrators have largely done that already. Although Puerto Rico spends more per public school student than... Read More
From the NYT: White Americans outscored the OECD average on the 2012 PISA 518 to
Because Finland scores well on PISA tests, there has been much interest in that remote Northern land's rather laidback public education system. But that raises a problem: Finland hasn't been very diverse until recently despite having a huge border with a much poorer country (secret: land mines). So, many accounts of Finland's education system in... Read More
The tireless PISA folks are back with the results of a test of math-related real world problem solving among 15 year olds in 44 upscale countries. (Check here for sample questions like how to find the quickest route on a map or how to adjust an air conditioner). The U.S. did not bad, scoring a... Read More
Three years ago, Andreas Schleicher and the other well-funded folks at PISA were media darlings. This year ... not so much. You can sense that the bloom is off the rose. A big part of PISA's new PR problem is that the results were so similar from 2009 to 2012. Now, you might think that stability is a... Read More
Via Staffan's Personality Blog, here's an article from a Swedish (ahem, sore loser, ahem) newspaper accusing PISA of using fabricated data from Slovenia, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. The charges don't involve students, but high school principals. The principals were supposed to fill in a 184 question survey for the Nosey Parkers at PISA, but... Read More
Commenter Power Child notes:"We'll fix it in post" is also the reasoning behind an awful lot of government spending on education, welfare, medicine, prisons, and many other Gaps caused by lack of care upfront in the production of residents of America.
The PISA test was given to large samples sizes in three American states. From the federal National Center for Educational Statistics: PISA 2012 Race / Ethnicity Mean Math Science Reading Massachusetts White 538 530 545 540 Black 467 458 466 476 Hispanic 460 446 460 475 Asian 578 569 580 584
From the "Country Note" for the United States from PISA:The key phrase there is "a successful implementation."
How can PISA claim to fairly test in 65 countries in dozens of languages?My vague hunch is that modern Item Response Theory testing, of which the PISA test's Rasch Model is an example, allows testers to say, much like movie directors of sloppy productions: "We'll fix it in Post." You tell me that during the big,... Read More
From Globes, an Israeli business publication:
From my new column at Taki's Magazine:Should you be? In truth, nobody seems to really know how much to trust PISA and its ace salesman Andreas Schleicher. ... The sheer logistical challenge of what PISA attempts to do should raise common-sense questions about how perfectly 65 count
There has been much talk about how Finland plummeted from its traditional top spot in the PISA scores, but:- Finland was always only tops in white countries. Some Northeast Asians would typically beat the Finns.- Finland is still #1 in white countries if you weight Math (519 for Finland), Science (545), and Reading (524) equally,... Read More
Here are today's 2012 PISA average scores ranked by the mean across the three subjects. Americans' scores by race are broken out to make the comparisons less misleading. In summary, each race in America appears to average a little better than their racial cousins overseas. (By the way, in the following list, the italicized names... Read More
From the federal National Center for Education Statistics, here are 2012 Science Literacy PISA scores for 15-year-olds, breaking out Americans by race: OECD average              501 Shanghai-China            580 Hong Kong-China           555 Singapore                 551 Japan                     547 Asian Americans 546 Finland                   545 Estonia  &
Scores for 65 countries (or "economies") are now out from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). How have scores in the U.S. changed since PISA got going in 2000? From the federal NCES explorer tool for PISA scores: Subject 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 Mathematics † 483 474 487 481 Science † † 489... Read More
On the international PISA tests in 2012, American 15-year-olds tended to do best on Reading Literacy, medium on Science Literacy, and worst on Mathematics Literacy. I have no idea whether that's for real or just a reflection of the difficulties of translating PISA tests into dozens of languages and making them equally hard in all.... Read More
With PISA results being released today, you are going to hear a lot about how stupid American 15-year-olds are, but smart analysts remember to always adjust for race.From the federal National Center for Education Statistics, a breakdown of 2012 PISA math scores showing how Americans of different races compare to the world. PISA scores are much... Read More
In the Telegraph:Obsession with education in Korea has become an integral part of contemporary Korean culture and affects all aspects of social life. Deeply rooted Confucian values stress education as the best way fo
Scores have been released for the 2012 PISA tests of most of the rich OECD countries and some poorer countries. North East Asians on top as usual, then Europeans, then various kinds of Third Worlders. The 2012 test emphasizes Math, while 2009 emphasizes Reading in which the U.S. scores well, so the U.S. is trailing... Read More
Lately, Europeans have really been getting into the international PISA tests of academic performance among 15-year-olds. This test is given in over 60 countries every three years. The 2012 results will be released on Tuesday (10 am Greenwich Mean Time) here.So, there's going to be a lot of hoopla, but let me link here to... Read More
This new OECD test, which is sort of PISA for adults, comes with endless documentation of the results, including reports by country. The U.S. report says:You expect poor literacy from immigrant groups, but the poor-to-mediocre numeracy of Hispanics in the U.S. came as something of a surprise to me when I was looking at the... Read More
In PISA exams, Finland usually is the top scoring white country. Although I have a large number of brilliant Finnish readers, I had expressed some skepticism: maybe Finns just try real hard on PISA and won't do as well on the other main international tests?So, how did Finland do in the 2011 TIMSS and PIRLS... Read More
Commenter TH compares 2011 results on TIMSS / PERLS to 2009 results on PISA:So, on the big picture, PISA and TIMSS are pretty much in agreement on the global racial hierarchy of math smarts. On the other hand, on the small picture of how white countries are doing, it's pretty much of a mess. There... Read More
I always try to keep up on China and India test score news, since the topic offers us important clues about the future of the world. From the Times of India: My old articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer
Anatoly Karlin, who is making himself the go-to guy on analyzing the investment implications of international school test scores (a potentially lucrative niche), has a long, fascinating write-up of PISA scores adjusted by immigration status:This might not seem like much, but it is highly significant when bearing in mind the extremely close correlation between national... Read More
The Urge to Purge appears to be superseding the Urge to Ignore.From Foreign Policy:Off to a good start there! Invoking the supreme authority of the late Stephen Jay Gould is a surefire way to persuade anybody familiar with the field of psychometrics that you know what you are talking about.Sadly, Derbyshire-like prattishness on the intellectual inferiority of dark-skinned... Read More
In the U.S., people who are strongly liberal or strongly conservative tend to be better educated and better informed than moderates. Sure, some moderates are moderate because they understand each sides' arguments perfectly, but many are moderate because they aren't very interested in politics.But, what happens when you disentangle the effects of IQ and education... Read More
A lot of the ideas that are broached early on iSteve end up being kicked around later in the prestige press, but they tend to get dumbed down in the process of replacing Occam's Razor with Occam's Butterknife. For instance, I've been saying for a decade that looking at test scores internationally can say a... Read More
Last week, the Australian Council for Education Research put out a glossy, voluminous report updating the 2009 PISA school achievement test conducted by the deep-pocketed OECD. ACER reported on ten more "economies," including two middling Indian states, which came in next to last out of 74 countries or regions.Since I've been interested in China v.... Read More
The news that two states in India took the PISA test of 15-year-olds' school achievement in 2009 and bombed raises the question once again of China. As everybody remembers from a year ago, 2009 scores from Shanghai were released and they were higher than any country in the world. But what about the rest of... Read More
Something I noticed last year when looking at 2009 PISA school achievement scores is the virtual non-existence of Mexico's intellectual elite. Mexico's average scores on this school achievement test of 15-year-olds were mediocre, but the lack of high end scores was startling, compared to a similar scoring country like Turkey, where there is a definite... Read More
The conventional wisdom expressed in Obama Administration speeches and the like is that American students get crushed by kids in China and India on international tests of school achievement. But the evidence for this is not as abundant as you might assume ... especially not for India. While the city of Shanghai shot the lights... Read More
The NYT has a run-of-the-mill article on Finland's high PISA test scores. Here's something interesting that my Finnish commenters have brought up before:The notion that subtitling TV shows might improve reading doesn't strike me as obviously absurd. It seems like the kind of thing that could be tested in a controlled experiment: give 100 poor... Read More
In a new paper in Psychological Science, Heiner Rindermann and James Thompson quantitatively model the wealth of nations based on a variety test scores, evidence of scientific and engineering skills, and Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment database of eminent individuals from Homer to John Von Neumann. Looks like La Griffe du Lion's smart fraction theory comes... Read More
Via Kevin Drum, I heard about the FIMS, First International Mathematics Study of 1963-1967, the ancestor of the ongoing TIMSS (Third International ...). Here's a 1992 report (5.6 meg PDF) by Elliott A. Medrich on the results of FIMS and four other early international school achievement tests. Americans did pretty badly except in one science... Read More
iSteve readers review books so I don't have to read them! A reader writes about the latest book by Linda Darling-Hammond, who is probably the second biggest Education School name in the country, after Howard Garner. Her book is about why public schools in Finland, South Korea, and Singapore get so much better test scores... Read More
Michael Lind pre-responds in Salon to Obama's State of the Union address conventional wisdom. Lind writes:The claim that America’s K-12 system is inferior to that of other industrial nations is another myth whose purpose is to divert the attention of the American public from the real reasons for the offshoring of U.S. industry. Much has... Read More
Megan K. Stack of the LA Times reports: Chinese students high scores in international tests come at great cost ... But even as some parents in the West wrung their hands, fretting over an education gap, Chinese commentators reacted to the results with a bout of soul-searching and even an undertone of embarrassment rarely seen... Read More
Conservatives have been saying for a long time that spending more on schools doesn't raise test scores: just look at how much D.C. spends per student or how much the U.S. spends versus Finland.But Tino at Super-Economy crunches the test scores (PISA internationally and NAEP in the U.S.) after adjusting for demographics, and finds positive... Read More
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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