PISA Results by Subgroup

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Hat Tip to Whitney Tilson for sending along this fascinating chart in his email blast today. This chart shows PISA data for 15 year olds (10th graders).

This serves as a Rorschach test. The usually reliable Robert Samuelson looks at this and says points out that American Anglos are pretty competitive.

Two problems: first from what we can tell from TIMMS, these numbers would probably look worse if we were examining 17 year olds (the U.S. has a large drop in rank between 8th and 12th grade).  Second, we are spending far beyond the OECD average on a per pupil basis, especially in the leafy suburbs, so our cost/achievement ratio still probably stinks, even for wealthy White kids.

The real story here is how much closer Hispanics and Blacks in America are to Mexico, the lowest scoring OECD country, than to an internationally competitive level.

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10 Responses to PISA Results by Subgroup

  1. Daniel Earley says:

    Obviously, some kind of tasteless neural toxin is being slipped into FRL meals that other kids aren’t getting.

  2. Patrick says:

    when it says “US < 10% FRL" does that mean a child educated in a school where less than 10 percent of the students qualify for FRL?

  3. matthewladner says:

    I think so.

  4. These are reading scores. The math scores are more disappointing for the US and more predictive of the economic future.

  5. Greg Forster says:

    Has there been comparative research on the predictive value of math v. reading scores for economic outcomes?

  6. matthewladner says:

    Here is the data source-

    http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011004.pdf

  7. Yes, Greg. Hanushek and Woessmann have some work on this.

  8. [...] Whitney Tilson via Matthew Ladner, here’s a chart of eighth-grade math PISA scores for different U.S. subgroups. (FRL means “free and reduced lunch” eligibility, i.e., a school’s poverty rate.) [...]

  9. Curmudgeon says:

    “Second, we are spending far beyond the OECD average on a per pupil basis, especially in the leafy suburbs, so our cost/achievement ratio still probably stinks, even for wealthy White kids.”

    There are a lot of things that US schools spend money on that are not included in European school budgets: healthcare/nurse, sports, guidance, etc.

    A better comparison would be to compare the teacher’s salaries in each country to that country’s median wage.

  10. matthewladner says:

    Curmudgeon-

    Mexico spends about a quarter per pupil of the American average on a PPP basis and has lower average family incomes, but are within striking distance of African American scores. If I wanted to be cruel, I could calculate a cost per PISA point ratio.

    Bottom line in my book: American schools do a much better job spending money than educating low income children.

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