Korean students ranked first in the world in reading, third in math and fifth in science on the PISA exams. In South Korea for five months on a fellowship, Washington Post reporter Michael Alison Chandler is blogging about the Korean education system on Confucian Times.
Anthony Jackson, vice president for education at the Asia Society, explained why he thought Korea and other East Asian countries scored so well. The top-scoring countries have some things in common:
*An emphasis on teacher quality – Hiring teachers from the top of their class, and training them well
*An emphasis on equity — Making sure that all schools have access to quality teachers
*Longer school days and/or longer school years — By the time they are ready for college some of these students have logged an extra year in the classroom (And were are talking about public schools, not private tutoring here.)
*Greater coordination of academic standards and higher standards for all students (In the US, it’s traditionally been every locality and state for himself).
In addition, as many as three-quarters of Korean students attend cram schools or tutoring, Chandler writes. korean culture makes success in school very, very important.
By the way, some commenters have suggested PISA tests the top students in foreign countries but tests a wide range of U.S. students. That’s not true. A lot of effort goes into testing a representative sample of students in each participating country.
Thanks to Alexander Russo for pointing out Chandler’s blog.