Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 53977
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2017/11/23 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
11/23   

2011/1/1-2/19 [Politics/Domestic/Immigration, Politics/Foreign/Europe] UID:53977 Activity:nil
1/1     US students indeed have worse scores on paper in PISA (Program for
        Int'l Student Assessment) than those from Asian countries, but don't
        blame our education system:
        http://www.csua.org/u/s8a
        \_ And yet US students make bajillions inventing things like credit
           default swaps and a fake housing market. Life ain't the boy scouts.
        \_ Those tests show who the good white collar slaves are; eg
           "work hard, dont stop working, don't go home, stay at work
            U B rich!"
            \_ Ah if only the world actually rewarded work with pay linearly.
        \_ Not very PC, but very interesting.
2017/11/23 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
11/23   

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Cache (8192 bytes)
www.csua.org/u/s8a -> www.newgeography.com/content/001955-the-amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa-beats-western-europe-ties-with-asia
Jump to the graphs if you don't want to read my boring set-up and methodology. The main theme in my blog is that we shouldn't confuse policy with culture, and with demographic factors. For instance, education scholars have known for decades that the home environment of the kids and the education levels of the parents are very important for student outcomes. We also know that immigrant kids have a more difficult time at school, in part because they don't know the language. The school me and my brother attended was in a basement in Tehran, had no modern resources, and largely focused on religious indoctrination. Our father attended a college in the west a few years (our mother didn't, despite stratospheric scores test scores, because at the time you didn't send a good Kurdish girl to another city to study). Conversely, the first few years in Sweden I had bad grades, in part because I didn't master the language. The point I am trying to make is that the school in Sweden was objectively superior to the school in Iran. But I scored lower in Sweden, because of factors outside the control of the education system. If you want to compare the effect of the school, you have to isolate those external factors and make an apples-to-apples comparison. It's dumb to compare one of the most elite cities in a country with entire nations, and to draw policy-inference from such a comparison. It is also naive to trust the Chinese government when they tell us the data is representative of the entire nation. Either you compare Shanghai to New York City, or you compare the entire country of China, including the rural part, with other large nations. Most of the news and policy conclusions we read about PISA-scores in the New York Times is thus pure nonsense. Language, culture, home environment, income of parents, the education level of the parents and social problems in the neighborhood and peer groups norms are among likely explanations. But it is generally not true that the schools themselves are worse for immigrants than natives. In welfare states, immigrants often (thought not always) go to the same or similar schools and have as much or likely more resources per student. So the fact that immigrant students in mixed schools do worse than Swedish kids used to a few decades ago in homogeneous schools does not it out of itself prove that Swedish public schools have become worse. Of course, the biggest myth that the media reporting of PISA scores propagates is that the American public school system is horrible. The liberal left in US and in Europe loves this myth, because they get to demand more government spending, and at the same time get to gloat about how much smarter Europeans are than Americans. The right also kind of likes the myth, because they get to blame social problems on the government, and scare the public about Chinese competitiveness. We all know that Asian students beat Americans students, which "proves" that they must have a better education system. This inference is considered common sense among public intellectuals. Well, expect for the fact that Asian kids in the American school system actually score slightly better than Asian kids in North-East-Asia! So maybe it's not that there is something magical about Asian schools, and has more to do with the extraordinary focus on education in Asian culture, with their self-discipline and with their favorable home environment. There are 3 parts to the PISA test, Reading, Math, and Science. I will just make it simple and use the average score of the 3 tests. This is not strictly correct, but in practice it doesn't influence the results, while making it much easier for the reader. For instance, Finland scores the best of any European country. However first and second generation immigrant students in Finland do not outperform native Swedish, and score 50 points below native Finns (more on this later). To give you a comparison, 50 points is larger than the difference between Sweden and Turkey. A crude rule of thumb here is that 50 points is 05 standard deviations. The problem is that different countries have different share of immigrants. It's just not fair to the Swedish public school system to demand that they must produce the same outcome, when Sweden has many more disadvantaged students. Similarly schools with African-American students who are plagued by racism, discrimination, crime, broken homes, poverty and other social problems are not necessarily worse just because their students don't achieve the same results as affluent suburbs of Chicago. In fact, the most reliable data I have seen suggests that American minority schools on average have slightly more money than white schools. It's just that the social problems they face are too much to overcome for the schools. It is illogical to blame the public school system for things out of its hands. So let's start by removing those with foreign background immigrants from the sample when comparing European countries with each other. I define immigrants here as those with a parent born outside the country, so it includes second generation immigrants. In the case of America, 99% of the population originates from other countries, be they England, Italy, Sweden, India, Africa, Hong-Kong or Mexico. If we want to isolate the effect of the United States public school system, we should compare the immigrant groups with their home country. For those majority of Americans whose ancestors originate from Europe, we obviously want to compare them with Europe. For some groups, such as Indians, this is inappropriate. The reason is that mainly the most gifted Indians get to migrate to America to work or study. previously, there is strong reason to believe that this problem of so called biased selection does not apply to historic European migration to the United States at the aggregate level. The people who left Europe were not better educated than those who stayed. Immigrants were perhaps more motivated, but often poorer than average. So similar to my comparison of GDP levels, let us compare Americans with European ancestry (about 65% of the US population, and not some sort of elite) with Europeans in Europe. We remove Asians, Mexicans, African-Americans and other countries that are best compared to their home nations. Rather than being at the bottom of the class, United States students are 7th best out of 28, and far better than the average of Western European nations where they largely originate from. The mean score of Americans with European ancestry is 524, compared to 506 in Europe, when first and second generation immigrants are excluded. So much for the bigoted notions that Americans are dumb and Europeans are smart. This is also opposed to everything I have been taught about the American public school system. For Asian-American students (remember this includes Vietnam, Thailand and other less developed countries outside Northeast Asia), the mean PISA score is 534, same as 533 for the average of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Here we have two biases going in opposite directions: Asians in the US are selected. On the other hand we are comparing the richest and best scoring Asian countries with all Americans with origin in South and East Asia. They blame this on government control and on teachers unions. However, it is completely unfair to demand that a public school in southern California where most of the students are recent immigrants from Mexico whose parents have no experience in higher education (only 4% of all Mexican immigrates have a college degree, compared to over 50% of Indian immigrants) should perform as well as a private school in Silicon Valley. The libertarians have no answer why European and Asian countries that also have public school systems score higher than the United States (unadjusted for demography). Top scoring Finland has strong teacher unions, just as California. Similarly, the left claims that the American education system is horrible, because Americans don't invest enough in education. The left has no answer when you point out that the United States spends insanely more than Europe and East Asia on education. OECD, the ...