so the PISA scores which compare 15 yr olds in 65 different countries came out today, and shanghai earned the top spot in all sections (including reading). it would be a no brainer to predict shanghai would be very high, but it’s a bit eyebrow raising that they’re #1. the first thing that i would have thought is sampling bias introduced by gov’t direction, but international experts oversaw the testing and made sure the sample reflected the general school population of shanghai. that’s pretty interesting b/c steve hsu says, “this means that the top 10 percent of Shanghai math students are all above the 99th percentile for the US.”
some commentators in the US had already positioned the PISA test avgs as irrelevant b/c even though the US avg is low, it has 25% of the highest scoring students in the world b/c of uneven score distribution and it’s large population. but this was before the actual scores came out showing shanghai’s placement. even though shanghai is not representative of china as a whole, i’m guessing ppl here in the US are going to be less sanguine about this result if only b/c china is at the top. considering china’s population and the scores of shanghai students, suddenly maybe the US’s percentage of the highest scoring students isn’t quite what they thought it was.
the article mentions that shanghai students typically spend less time on non-academic activities, which may explain the scores. i wonder if flare could provide some insight. if chinese students play fewer sports, could a large portion of that time simply be swapped for gaming?
the interactive database w/ scores and student variables is here.