2012 PISA Exam Results for the United States

This past week several articles were published on the fall in international ranking of 15-year-old U. S. students taking the PISA exams. PISA stands for Program for International Students Assessment and the tests are given globally with countries then being ranked in the subjects of math, science and reading. What is interesting to note before I show the 2012 United States scores is that this test is designed not to test knowledge of data or facts but to measure whether students can apply knowledge to real-life problem solving.

Math – U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st globally since 2009

Science –  U.S. slipped from 20th to 24th globally since 2009

Reading – U.S. sliped from 11th to 21st globally since 2009

The drop in the reading ranking was startling to me and my opinion is that any other subject will suffer if a child cannot read with comprehension, so no big surprise the other subject scores fell as well. This seems to underscore the idea that teaching the basic skills and honing them is of utmost importance. How do you do this as a homeschooler? Talk to your children and use their interets and talents to fuel a desire to read then apply what they have read and learned to real life activites.  This procedure helps imbed the knowledge and make it real without calling it math, science or history. Interest based learning, as I discuss in my book, allows a child to learn multiple subjects while doing one project or reading a single book or text. Real life is full of integration and this is the best way to help chidlren learn to apply the knowledge they have obtained.

Two countries making marked improvement in the rankings were Ireland and Poland. Interestingly, Poland has instituted massive education reforms that delay putting students in academic or vocational tracks while crafting better systems to work with struggling students. Might the key to Poland’s success be that they are working to individualize education for their students like homeschooling can do to identify stengths and weaknesses? The comments by the head of the U.S. Education Department and the National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union, say our education system is stagnating and going down the wrong path but they offered no concrete solutions. Many experts state that we need to look at socioeconomic factors and not put too much weight on the test scores. While others tout rigorous academic testing standards for graduation from grade levels.

My purpose in talking about these test scores is not to lambast the public education system and teachers but to help any homeschooling family realize that they can achieve success in education. By becoming aware of your children’s talents and learning styles, you can help them tailor learning opportunities that will help them soar in their chosen career in life. One of the surest ways for people to learn and excel is to be personally committed and enthusiastic about what they are studying. Homeschooling offers this opportunity in a way that our public education system cannot and will not do.

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