Another dot in the blogosphere?

Reflecting on our TIMMS and PISA rankings

Posted on: December 7, 2016

Rankings from surveys and studies like TIMMS and PISA are released around this time of year.

We expect Singapore to be at the top or very near it. We are so used to our heady heights that to not be there would be embarrassing.

The next few days and weeks will see opinion pieces in papers and blogs about how Singapore does it. Practically every one will try to sound original, but you will hear the same refrains from every tune: Our methods, our teachers, our culture.
 

 
I say these three things:

  1. If we are to take rankings seriously, we should not cherry-pick only the ones that make us look good. We should also focus on where we do not do as well and seek to do good or be better.
  2. If we are to attribute what creates good results in tests, I say we not ignore a) critics like Yong Zhao, and b) the effect of tuition and test preparation.
  3. Tests are just that and so are their results. They are not necessarily designed to be predictive nor do they guarantee transfer of test-based skills to wider world application. The context of a test is the test.

I also ask this question: Ever notice how the rankings focus on mathematics and science? Have you wondered why there are no rankings for the humanities or our humanity? Have you reflected on your answer to the last question?

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