How Well Are American Students Learning?, the Brown Center report, criticizes proposals to model a national U.S. exam on Europe’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). Some PISA questions are ideologically biased, the report argues.
PISA wants to assess whether students are capable of applying science to public policy. Fair enough. That capacity can be evaluated, however, without making a judgment about students’ political beliefs. PISA asks students whether they support several environmental policies and then creates an index of “responsibility for sustainable development” from the responses. Responses in favor of the policies are responsible; those opposed are not. That kind of questioning is inappropriate on a science assessment. Without serious reform, PISA is inappropriate for benchmarking.
The report also argues against requiring all eighth graders to take algebra, as California and Minnesota plan to do. Too many students already are “misplaced” in math courses they can’t handle, the report concludes: Until they’ve learned to deal with fractions, decimals or percentages, they can’t do algebra.
Via Education Gadfly.