AFT’s Take on What the PISA Results Really Mean

This week, the American Federation of Teachers released the following video in response to the results of the PISA exam (Programme for International Standards and Assessment). The test, which is administered in 65 countries to students between 15 and 16 years of age, compares students’ abilities to apply their knowledge of standard subjects including science, math, and reading to “real-world” situations.  The most recent PISA results were released in early December, and ranked the U.S. near the middle in most results.

The release of the scores has naturally generated a deluge of response and commentary from education leaders, pundits, the White House, and Congress; about the the state of education in our country and what we need to do about it. This video offers a thoughtful examination of the test results, and suggests a different approach to policy reform than much of what the news media has presented in the last two weeks. What do you think? Do you agree with AFT’s assessment of the PISA and where the U.S. needs to go from here? (Spoilers:  it’s not towards more testing or greater competition. Studies show the greatest impacts on a child’s academic success essentially boil down to poverty and access to early childhood education; not surprisingly, the highest-ranking PISA countries’ policies tend to bear out the research.)

Please share your reactions below!

Shannon Kelly, NAfME Director of Advocacy, December 11, 2013. © National Association for Music Education (