West vs Asia education rankings are misleading – opinion – 07 January 2013 – New Scientist: ”We might instead consider that in a global economy, where the answers to almost any standard question are a few smartphone taps away, skills like creativity and initiative will be the true drivers of prosperity. None of these traits can be measured easily by tests. When testing consumes precious educational time, focus and money, they get squeezed out.”
(Hittat via Christian Lundahls tweet.)
MacGregor Campbell argues that there is a week, if any, correlation between results on tests like TIMMS and PISA to the success of a country in terms of economic groth, innovation etc. He refers to Christopher Tienken, who in 2008 compared 1995 TIMSS scores with the 2006 Growth Competitiveness Index. For developed countries there was no statistically significant relationship. Tienken has according to Campbell done ”a similar analysis of the 2003 PISA mathematics rankings and two measures of economic success: per-capita GDP in 2010, and the 2010-2011 Growth Competitiveness Index. The study, to be published in April, again found no statistically significant relationship.”
What interests me with Tienkens studies is partly methodological. He seems to have realized that the success of an educational system should be measured by the impact it has on the society it works within in the long term. It means that we can not know how well it works based on the evaluation done today (i.e. standardized tests) but rather on how successful people (and/or the country) is several years after they have left school (reforms have taken place). Seems to me that even 10 years is a bit short as perspective – we have to consider when in a life we are most productive, most innovative and try to measure changes in these kind of things and their relationship to education. Of course there are exceptions, young people making great innovations but in general a countrys level of prosperity depends on many peoples contributions during a longer period of time.
A very interesting attempt to do just that was, according to Campbell, done by Keith Baker (US Department of Education) who in 2007 ”made a rough comparison of long-term correlations between the 1964 mathematics scores and several measures of national success decades later. Baker found negative relationships between mathematics rankings and numerous measures of prosperity and well-being: 2002 per-capita wealth, economic growth from 1992 to 2002 and the UN’s Quality of Life Index. Countries scoring well on the tests were also less democratic. Baker concluded that league tables of international success are ”worthless” (Phi Delta Kappan, vol 89, p 101).” There is something to be learned here.
Hopefully people at least understand that comparing results from the latest PISA study with any current ranking on such things as innovation or democracy tells us absolutely nothing.