December 3, 2013: The results of the PISA scores released today are larded with complex reflections on the societies that have produced them. One such result was noted by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in his remarks before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that conduct the testing of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):
The chief reason that U.S. students lag behind their peers in high-performing countries is not their diversity, or the fact that a significant number of public school students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The problem, OECD concludes, is that "socioeconomic disadvantage leads more directly to poor educational performance in the United States than is the case in many other countries." Disadvantaged Canadians are much less at risk of poor educational performance than their counterparts here.
In coverage on Politico, Stephanie Simon reports:
...Dennis Van Roekel, at left, president of the National Education Association, emphasized the corrosive effects of poverty. The U.S. has one of the highest child poverty rates in the world, double or triple the rate in PISA powerhouses such as South Korea, Germany, Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands. Van Roekel called poverty “the main cause of our mediocre PISA performance.”
Indeed, high-poverty schools in the U.S. posted dismal scores on the PISA tests, akin to countries such as Kazakhstan, Romania and Cyprus.
Wealthy schools, by contrast, did very well on all three tests. Students in the most affluent U.S. schools — where fewer than 10 percent of children are eligible for subsidized lunches — scored so highly that if treated as a separate jurisdiction, they would have placed second only to Shanghai in science and reading and would have ranked sixth in the world in math...