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Education Lab Blog

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

Topic: Asia

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April 1, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Who aces problem-solving exam? U.S. above average, but Asia rules

When it comes to success in life, it’s not just what students know, but what they can do with what they know.

To gauge that ability, a problem-solving section was part of the 2012 international tests known as PISA, or Programme for International Student Assessment.

The section, given to about 85,000 15-year-olds worldwide, “goes well beyond whether students can reproduce what they were taught,” said Pablo Zoido of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which manages the PISA exams.

To do well, the OECD says, students must be “open to novelty, tolerate doubt and uncertainty, and dare to use intuition to initiate a solution.”

And that’s where U.S. students shine, at least in part.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Asia, PISA, problem solving

November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Guest: Lessons learned from Singapore’s proactive education system

On campus at the Singapore Technical Institute (Photo courtesy of Michael DeBell)

On campus at the Singapore Technical Institute (Photo courtesy of Michael DeBell)

The principal of the school was blunt: “This new technical school is very expensive but much cheaper than a prison.”

Seattle educators traveled to Singapore in October for the third meeting of the Global Cities Education Network. The Asia Society brought us together to study and share our common challenges in public education.

Singapore, like other developed Asian nations, scores at or near the top in international tests. The country is multicultural, has a large proportion of poor immigrants and operates a bilingual school system. Its success is nothing short of stunning and provides lessons for our interminable debates over education reform.

Observers sometimes compare the nation of Singapore to a corporation that serves its citizen shareholders with harsh laws and great social services. The coordination between the economy and the education system is proactive and comprehensive. Youth unemployment is virtually zero, as the graduates of universities, polytechnic colleges, and technical institutes hit the labor market with the content knowledge and skill sets matching the evolving local economy. This success occurs because nearly equal attention goes to the bottom third of students on standardized tests as the top third headed for universities.


Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: Asia, guest opinion, Michael DeBell