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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Curious about the much discussed PISA exam? Try the test for yourself

Sample problem from PISA website

Sample question from PISA website

In case you missed it, Tuesday was PISA Day.

With a lot of fanfare, officials released the 2012 scores for perhaps the most closely watched international test, the Programme for International Student Assessment  — PISA for short.

For the U.S., the news was that our scores didn’t change much from 2009, the last time the test was given, though we dropped some in the rankings.

Whether that’s a clarion call for change depends on your point of view. Opinions varied, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the reform organization Achieve lamenting the results, while others found them worthless or at least worth a more nuanced look. See author and testing critic Diane Ravitch, and these folks in Education Week and Slate.

And  here’s what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which administers the test, has to say about how the U.S. performed.

The PISA is given to 15-year-olds in 65 “economies,” as the OECD calls them — mostly countries, but also some cities and other entities. Three states — Connecticut, Florida and Massachusetts — also tested enough students this time around to get their own results.

One interesting detail you may not have known: For the overall U.S. scores, the test is given to a random sample of students from public AND private schools.

If you’re curious about how hard the PISA is, the OECD has some sample questions on its website.

Hint: The first one is easy.

Comments | More in News | Topics: PISA, standardized tests

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