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Topic: Shanghai PISA Scores Not So Good After All?
Replies: 7   Last Post: Jan 15, 2011 2:35 PM

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Jonathan Groves

Posts: 2,068
From: Kaplan University, Argosy University, Florida Institute of Technology
Registered: 8/18/05
Shanghai PISA Scores Not So Good After All?
Posted: Jan 8, 2011 8:57 PM
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Dear All,

The Wall Street Journal article "The Test Chinese Schools Still Fail"
by Jiang Xueqin can be found at the link

The writer argues that Shanghai's performance, though very strong on
the PISA, might not be so good after all. The students are basically
robots who can regurgitate all kinds of knowledge but cannot do
anything with it. The following passage mentions some complaints
from the Chinese government, Chinese educators, and Chinese parents:

"So China has no problem producing mid-level accountants, computer
programmers and technocrats. But what about the entrepreneurs and
innovators needed to run a 21st century global economy? China's most
promising students still must go abroad to develop their managerial
drive and creativity, and there they have to unlearn the test-centric
approach to knowledge that was drilled into them.

"The failings of a rote-memorization system are well-known: lack of
social and practical skills, absence of self-discipline and imagination,
loss of curiosity and passion for learning. Chinese students burn
themselves out testing into university, where many of them spend their
time playing World of Warcraft.

"Both multinationals and Chinese companies have the same complaints
about China's university graduates: They cannot work independently,
lack the social skills to work in a team and are too arrogant to
learn new skills. In 2005, the consulting firm McKinsey released a
report saying that China's current education system will hinder its
economic development."

I do not find these complaints very surprising: An intense focus on
testing turns students into robots. Grades matter far more than
genuine learning. Standardized tests are not about students
developing creativity and problem solving skills; all they do is
test whether students can perform in ways that the system wants them
to perform. Over-reliance on testing and grading makes a mockery
of what education is ultimately about.

Because many Chinese and other Asians are highly attracted to college
and graduate school in the United States, I suspect that this
tells us that their high scoring on PISA and other standardized
tests may not tell as good of a story as we think it does, that
there is something not so good behind the scenes.

Jonathan Groves

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