America’s legacy of technology innovation may be in a tenuous position without serious intervention in the wappy students are prepared to enter the field. The most recent results of the Programme for International Student Assessment have taken education leaders by surprise.

The results show a eye-opening lead position by students in Shanghai, whose results outperformed those in Korea and Finland. What were the US results? We scored below 30 countries in math and 23 countries in science. Read more about the reactions of prominent US educators in this recent New York Times article, Top Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators.

The PISA is administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is given every three years to 15-year-olds to test several areas of understanding, and provide feedback about what students know. This video which explains the goals of PISA is taken from the OECD website.

The OECD website phrases the unique qualities of the PISA thus:

Public policy issues – Governments, principals, teachers and parents all want answers to questions such as “Are our schools adequately preparing young people for the challenges of adult life?”, “Are some kinds of teaching and schools more effective than others?” and “Can schools contribute to improving the futures of students from immigrant or disadvantaged backgrounds?”

Literacy – Rather than examine mastery of specific school curricula, PISA looks at students’ ability to apply knowledge and skills in key subject areas and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they examine, interpret and solve problems.

Lifelong learning – Students cannot learn everything they need to know in school. In order to be effective lifelong learners, young people need not only knowledge and skills, but also an awareness of why and how they learn. PISA both measures student performance in reading, mathematics and science literacy and also asks students about their motivations, beliefs about themselves and learning strategies.

As a measure of these performance markers, the PISA provides important feedback as we prepare students to enter the technology and engineering fields where much of America’s innovation occurs.

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