PISA 2015, or Eastern vs Western education  

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The results of the latest PISA testing have come out. Will I manage to write about the educational styles in Canada (which is 4th, tied with Finland, after Singapore, Japan and Estonia) and Romania (48th out of 70)?

PISA20156Those inclined toward more esoteric explanations might note that PISA is also the town or tower in the town famous for being visibly tilted and jump to a bunch of conclusions based on the direction of the (former) tilt. But I don’t care for that.

I do care for the “educational PISA” – I wrote about it in 2009 as well.

I will note, however, that the top spots are occupied 2 Asian countries and by Finland and its neighbour greatly influenced by Finland. More specifically, Finland and Estonia share languages belonging to the same (weird) group as our loving NW neighbour, though they’re all different. I suspect that Estonia has also adopted Finland’s educational style. Henceforth, as far as the top 4 places in the ranking go, it’s Northern Europe vs Far East Asia.


A few more facts:

  • Twelve per cent of Canadian students are top performers (performance Levels 5 or above) in science, a proportion that is four per cent higher than the OECD average.
  • Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia students performed particularly well in science and were on a par with the highest-performing countries and economies in the assessment. Quebec students performed extremely well in mathematics and are among the best in the world. Students in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia were on a par with many of the best performers in reading.
  • On average across Canada, there was no gender gap in science performance. In mathematics, boys continue to outperform girls in Canada overall. In reading, girls are still well ahead of boys in Canada and internationally.
  • There was no overall achievement difference in Canada between anglophone and francophone school systems in science and reading. In mathematics, the results showed some differences by the language of the school system: at the pan-Canadian level, students in francophone school systems performed better than their counterparts in anglophone schools systems.

I have reasons to believe that Canada’s high ranking may not necessarily be due to the Canada’s education system. Canada has been accepting more immigrants per capita than any other OECD country for quite a long time and most of this immigration is coming from Asia. Asian immigrants tend to have a higher birthrate than either Europe or North America and by the time they immigrate, their kids have gone through their native country educational system where they acquired a strong foundation. I don’t have numbers to back up this hypothesis, but my feeling is that most Asian immigrant kids are overachievers who benefitted from their superior, competitive education system and reap the rewards in the more open system here in Canada. It is, in a way, my personal story as well.

I arrived in Canada after having attended CNSS (National College St Sava, formerly Balcescu) in Bucharest, Romania. We lived in a “newcomer’s paradise”, in a Toronto high-density suburban area, and the high-school I went to was overloaded. The school counselors tried to convince me to go to another high-school, with a better reputation, but that was far away and it required taking the bus, which cost money, whereas the overflowing one was closer to home – walking distance. The school counselors delayed my registration and were generally dicks. In contrast, the head of the ESL department was very nice and took me under her wing. She even went to a Romanian girl to tell her that “a very cute Romanian guy” has come to my school – this girl was, sadly, deported with her family within a year as their asylum application had been denied.

I’ve soon discovered that the Canadian curriculum was far behind the communist Romanian one, at least as far as math and physics were concerned. Certain concepts, such as trigonometry or 3D geometry were not even taught. I finished high school with honors without even opening most textbooks and even got good results in math contests, while in Romania I had to pass Iosif Sever Georgescu’s “corrigence” physics exam. The best part of high school was not school: discovering Canadian libraries, girls, swimming team and competitions.

I was generally well received in the Canadian school system, and though there were a few kids and teachers who resented the fact that I was a bit better prepared, I arrogantly surfed through. At the same time, I was shocked to discover that many Asian students were subjected to some sort of discrimination. Back then, Asian immigration had just started surging in Canada.

In all fairness though, Australia is very similar to Canada in many ways, including significant Asian immigration, yet their rankings have dropped. On the other hand, Canada still takes in more immigrants than Australia, so this counterpoint might not be relevant. Australia has better private and catholic school performance and they even differentiate their results between immigrant and native kids (abc-au):


The Economist has a different take on Australia’s slide:

Australia is one of the few rich countries where pupils do not have to take maths in their leaving exams. (Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, is trying to make states change this.) It is also a result of a declining quality of teaching, suggests John Hattie of the University of Melbourne. Successful applicants to teacher-training courses have lower results in their school exams than in the 1980s and 1990s.

What can I tell you about each of these countries, other than Canada? Let’s continue with Asia (coming up).

Sources / More info: PISA 2015 world results, PISA Canada, abc-au

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Thursday, December 08, 2016 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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