Photo: AP Images
In 2010, when the only test that attempts to contrast and compare the world’s education levels, PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), released the results from 15-year-olds in Shanghai for the first time, the reaction was incredulous.“Top Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators” read the New York Times’ headline, and educators had good reason to be stunned. Shanghai schoolchildren were top of the world in Reading, Maths and Science, beating previous contenders such as Finland and South Korea.
One commenter, who had served in President Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education, told the Times that this was likely only the beginning.
“I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029,” Chester E. Finn Jr said.
Now, it’s beginning to look like Finn was undervaluing China when he made that statement, and fears that Shanghai was a freak results are simply wrong.
Speaking to the BBC this week, Andreas Schleicher of the OECD (the body behind the PISA tests) said that even unpublished results from poor rural areas were “remarkable”.
“Shanghai is an exceptional case – and the results there are close to what I expected,” Andreas Schleicher said. “But what surprised me more were the results from poor provinces that came out really well. The levels of resilience are just incredible.”
The next round of PISA tests are due to be released late next year.
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