PISA Scores, What are They and Who Cares?

2012 PISA Scores

Well, the new PISA scores are out and yes, the US ranked 26th from the bottom in schooling.  What is PISA and who cares?  PISA stands for the Program for International Student Assessment.  It is a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of 15 year old school pupils’ scholastic performance in mathematics, science and reading. 65 cities and countries are compared every three years with a sampling of 470,000 students throughout the world. 

The news that is spinning this past week when the PISA scores were released Tuesday is that the U.S. is stagnant in the scores or mediocre at best.  Asia is outperforming everyone, but at what cost?  Joe Bower in his blog here put it in light, that it’s about the quality of life in a nation. (I love the quote by Maya Angelou:  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.”)  Finland does not use standardized tests until students reach High School age.  It is also about poverty.  Historian Diane Ravitch, a twitter friend of mine, writes here that the more we focus on tests, the more we will lose creativity.  Read her article because she gets into the history of PISA and our nation.

Then you have New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes here that we are stagnant and that is not good for a globalized world.  And then you can see the push at the end of the article for the education reform agenda.  Below in the Twittersphere, I highlight what Michelle Rhee tweeted out regarding the PISA study: “We can’t make excuses for a system that allows American students to be stagnant as other countries surge ahead. We cannot accept mediocrity.”

Now you wonder why our nation of governors have signed on to the Common Core State Standards. This will not go away, and as I noted before, it will be an interesting ride for the next few years In my opinion, for what it’s worth, I question why aren’t we looking at poverty and how to tackle that problem? Is standardization of curriculum the way to go? What about societal issues? And how about funding our schools properly? I recognize how hard all of you work to make the Common Core lessons engaging for your students. I am just questioning and learning why as a nation, we are moving in this direction and trying to understand the facts. We are in for a long overhaul. Keep your chin up – You are the best of the best! Have a great week!


Other News:

  • Bus Duty for Dec 9 – Dec 20 Team 7:  Paula Bates, Marci Tyler, Sarah Pawananon Upcoming bus duty:  Jan 6 – Jan 17 Team 8:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor
  • Thank you to Paula Bates for hosting our Holiday Party this past Friday.  What a fun time had by all!  
  • If you are showing a video such as movies, et. al, please note there is a video approval form that needs to be completed.  You can get a copy in the office.
  • Our next staff meeting is Tuesday, December 17th.  This is our Thank You Circle.  Please bring a dish to share and 5 $1.00 lottery tickets to put into a kitty and then we will all have a chance to pick 5.  The lucky winner treats all of us!!  
  • Our Staff Stocking extravaganza starts Monday.  Thank you Betty for a great idea.  We have 33 staff members participating.  That is AWESOME!  
  • Co-Op bids are due January 7th.   Please be conservative in your orders as we would like to “beef up” technology purchases.
  • 12  Nelson Mandela  quotes you will not see in the mainstream media.
  • Welcome back Brenda Trivilino!!  
Things out in the Blogsphere 
  • My friend Tony Sinanis is guest blogger on Peter DeWitt’s blog.  He writes about Branding Your School.
  • In their Sunday Review, the New York Times editorial board asks Who Says Math Has to be Boring.  A must read and will be a four part series regarding math and science teaching.  It will argue that “the American system of teaching these subjects is broken.”
  • The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the PISA scores in this editorial.
Things in the Twittersphere

StevenSinger3's avatar
US schools with less than 10% poverty are 1st on international exams. Fix poverty & you fix schools. …estateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/2013/12/pa-ed-…

pasi_sahlberg's avatar

 Can’t We Do Better? asks Tom Friedman (but remember that cost of high PISA scores in Asia is too high) nytimes.com/2013/12/08/opi…

App of the Week
Evernote is a great note taking application that can be used on your tablet, your phone, or on your laptop/desktop.  It is a very powerful program that can save and organize your files, pictures, videos, and you name it.  There is a file sharing option that you can share with others to work together on projects.  Unlike Google Drive, this program has a robust file system that is easily searchable, even with handwritten notes.   It also has applications such as Skitch to mark up pictures as well as Penultimate so you can take notes with a stylus which can be a great tool to give that personal touch of a handwritten note.  Evernote has extensions for both Chrome and I.E. so that you can “clip” webpages to go directly to your Evernote account, similar to what Diigo does, but Diigo does not have the writing options.  Evernote also links in with IFTTT and you can manage all of your favorite tweets, Facebook likes, Pinterest pins, and GMail favorites.  Evernote is free.  (I choose to subscribe to get the full program features.)  Evernote is cloud-based computing and can work great in the classroom.  You can explore the options here on how to use Evernote in schools.  Joe Sanfilippo from Teq also put a quick 10 tips using Evernote blog here.  Try Evernote – you can’t go wrong and it’s FREE!!


  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!


Other Items of Interest

M3 Logo
Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is a free team-based math competition for juniors and seniors. Winning teams win scholarship money. In the contest, students have to solve open-ended, realistic math problems.


Research about specific instructional leadership actions indicates that coaching, evaluation, and involvement in the school’s educational program translates to higher student achievement.


Ever wonder about the Regents Research Fund fellowsThis article explains [a little] about them and what they do.  My friend Carol Burris is quoted in this article.  Not to be missed! (As Chancellor Tisch states in response to criticism and debate of the RRF, “It’s a sexy thing to say in this environment!” )

SED has put together some answers to common questions about data, data-sharing, and the portal.


The American School Board Journal has shared “The 12 Rules of Christmas” with advice for school at this time of year.
The questions we ask students can be so powerful – or so weak (and we often answer the questions for ourselves). Here are some simple tips for better questions.

The videos from the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study will soon be available to researchers for additional study. These are the videos that were used to make their conclusions about measuring teacher quality upon which SED has relied.
Data Flyer Image

The use of data in schools has been one of the hot topics in education. You can read SED’s “testimony” to the Assembly Education Committee’s hearing. OCM BOCES has prepared an explanation of the role of data in schools for general audiences (feel free to distribute or reproduce).

Standards-based education and differentiation work together to promote high levels of achievement for all students. As part of the latest cohort of Scaffolding for Student Outcomes: Meeting Diverse Needs, participants will:
  • Explore the similarities and differences in learners and gain insight about how they are likely to respond to classroom instruction
  • Identify options for meeting the needs of the wide range of students including gifted students, struggling learners, students with special needs, second language learners, resistant and reluctant learners
    Explore UDL and options for scaffolding within CCLS target learning outcomes
20 Things Video

Kid President has twenty things we should say more often to each otherThis video would be great for a morning meeting – kids could talk about what they might add to his list.

A scene from the film ‘Star Kid’ — Trimark Pictures/Everett

This blog from the Wall Street Journal is for parents of accused bullies. It might not be a bad idea to share it with parents when the situation arises.

A Touch of Humor


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s