In this era of global competition, test scores are used as the primary benchmark to call out which countries will produce “successful” students. Knowing that American students are competing against a global pool of the best and brightest has led education leaders to focus more on how they score on international tests compared to students from other countries.
But high test scores don’t provide a complete picture of students’ success, according to Yong Zhao, world-renown author, scholar, and professor of education at University of Oregon.
“Countries that score highly, have students with lower confidence,” Zhao said in his keynote address to educators gathered online for the 2013 Leadership Summit.
That seems counter-intuitive, and Zhao isn’t claiming a causal connection — he questions whether focusing on test scores might inadvertently lower confidence. Zhao has analyzed data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and discovered a negative correlation between high math scores and confidence.
Similarly, in his analysis of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test that analyzes how countries score in reading, math and science, Zhao found a negative correlation between attitude and attainment. In other words, the countries with lower scores had students who reported higher interest in the subjects. Zhao analyzed media stories from high scoring countries like Korea and Japan, where students don’t show enough confidence or enthusiasm for subjects in which they excel.
He found the same results when he looked at students’ belief in their entrepreneurial capacity, their ability to start businesses or be self-starters. “Everybody is trying to perfect this system and make Continue reading