Tag Archives: PISA

Comparing Apples to Apples Instead of Cabbages

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.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, click it and then follow directions.


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The Annual Autumn Teacher Blues – Part 3/3

All the negative media and criticism of “ignorant idiots” that public school teachers in the U.S. and their unions are failing America’s children doesn’t explain why the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), reported that between 19% and 23% of American adults performed at the top levels for each of the three literacy scales: document literacy, prose literacy and quantitative (number) literacy.

Sweden is the only country that scored higher.

Countries that have participated in the IALS are Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Chili, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungry, Italy, Norway, and Slovenia.

The IALS is an international comparative study designed to provide participating countries, including the United States, with information about the skills of their adult populations. The IALS measured the literacy and numeracy skills of a nationally representative sample from each participating country. Source:

As I was writing about the IALS, I thought if this survey had been widely reported in the media as much as the 2009 PISA test results were, the media and critics of U.S. public schools would look for statistics from this survey that were negative and report the glass half empty and never mention the glass is more than half full.

From Retaining, we learn how tough it is in America’s public schools from the teacher turnover rate.

The same stress that causes PTSD in teachers that stay in education may also drive qualified teachers away.

Ingersoll (1999, 2001, 2002a) proposed the schoolteacher hiring and quitting cycle is a revolving door.

Ingersoll (2001) analyzed national data and concluded the teacher shortages in public schools is not because of teacher retirement but a revolving door in which almost half the new teachers leave within five years, while another study (Barbour – 2006) found that shortages of well-prepared teachers in public schools exist because 22% of new teachers leave within five years.

However, another study found that 28% of teachers that left self-reported they would return if school conditions improved (Futernick, 2007)

Return to The Annual Autumn Teacher Blues – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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