Comparing Apples to Apples Instead of Cabbages

02 Oct

My goal for this post was to discover how America’s public schools compared to countries with similar educational systems.  The scores used are from the 2009 global PISA rankings.

I ended up comparing the scores of nine similar countries [Western Christian cultures] with the top three [China, Finland and Singapore] and the lowest score [Kyrgystan].  The first chart lists three of the top five, the second chart includes the United States and eight similar countries, and the last chart shows the country with the lowest global score on the 2009 international PISA test.

Three of the top-five public school systems in the world as tested by PISA.

These three public school systems are very different from the United States. I’ve written about these differences in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S.


Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Shanghai-China 556 600 575
Finland 536 541 554
Singapore 526 562 542

Using Google and doing some research, I discovered “Nine Countries” [Western Christian cultures] that use annual standardized tests to measure student growth, which means these countries teach to the test and teachers are probably micromanaged by administration and pressured to raise test scores as is often the case in America.

The average score of Reading was 482.5 and the United States was 17.4 points higher.  Only one of the nine countries scored higher than the United States.

The average score of Mathematics was 486.7 and the United States was 0.3 points higher—three of the nine scored lower.

The average score of Science was 494.2 and the United States was 7.8 points higher. Only three of the nine scored higher.


Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

United States




France 496 497 498
United Kingdom 494 492 514
Romania 424 427 428
Lithuania 468 477 491
Russian Federation 459 468 478
Netherlands 508 526 522
Germany 497 513 520
Sweden 497 494 495

The lowest-scoring public school system in the world as tested by PISA.


Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Kyrgystan 314 331 330

What can we learn from this?

We may learn that the political/religious critics of America’s public schools will manipulate the data to make the schools look bad and ignore the rest of the facts that say otherwise.  With this comparison, we see America from a different perspective comparing apples to apples instead of apples to cabbages.

Discover Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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One response to “Comparing Apples to Apples Instead of Cabbages

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse

    October 3, 2011 at 07:11

    I thought I’d add a bit more data. If we compare the average scores of US students with the number one country on the PISA test, which was Shanghai, China, then the US scored at 89.9% in Reading, 81.2% for Math and 87.3% for Science—not bad for a country that according to public education’s critics has a public education system that is failing.

    As a teacher, those numbers would result in a B+/A- in Reading, a B- for Math and a B+ for Science. Yes, there is room for improvement but not by much.

    Using the same method to compare the lowest scoring country with the US, here is where Kyrgyzstan stands: Reading 62.8% (D-), Math 68% (D+) and Science 65.7% (D)

    In fact, when we compare Kyrgsytan with China as I did with the US and China, the numbers make a dramatic shift down: Reading 56.5% (FAIL), Math 55.2% (FAIL), and Science 57.4% (FAIL)

    Using the same comparison method for the nine similar Western Christian countries (that compare to the US) that probably micromanages teachers as the US does, while using standardized tests to measure student progress as the US does, here’s how those nations compare to Shanghai, China in one area, READING.

    France 89.2%
    United Kingdom 88.8%
    Romania 76.2%
    Lithuania 84.1%
    Russian Federation 82.5%
    Netherlands 91.3%
    Germany 89.3%
    Sweden 89.3%


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