The Only International Test Score Info You Need to Know

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, December 3, 2013

It’s PISA Day, meaning that the latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment  have just been released, and—brace yourself–the average scores for U.S. students were not very much different from any of the previous comparison years. They were generally in the middle of the pack of 65 countries and individual school systems.


In the newly released 2012 results, Shanghai was on top  in reading, math and science — as it was in 2009 — with Singapore, South Korea and Japan not far behind, again. Vietnam, participating for the first time, did better than the United States in math and science.

Why can’t our schools be more like those in Shanghai (where most students attend after-school tutoring, teachers get extensive training and Chinese officials are worried about too much standardized testing), or Singapore (where officials are reforming schools to help kids become confident, moral, analytical thinkers with a “zest for life”), South Korea (famous for its after-school cram schools) and Japan (also known for its cram schools)? We wouldn’t really want them to be.

Many U.S. schools surely need to be improved and curriculum in American schools has long needed to be overhauled. {snip}

The sky, however, is not falling, at least not because of the PISA scores. For one thing, U.S. students have never scored at or even near the top of international assessments. Not ever.

Though it is often said that international test scores tell us something important about the future of American’s economy, the fact is that countries that have much higher unemployment and more troubled economies have higher PISA scores than the United States. And  U.S. students repeatedly get higher scores than some countries with lower unemployment rates. {snip}


Test scores by themselves should never be taken alone as an indication of  how 15-year-olds are doing in school, and how 15-year-olds do on an international exam should not be taken as a proxy for the quality of their schools.

Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch wrote in her new book,  “Reign of Error“:

Kevin Baker, who worked for many years as an analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, asked, “Are international tests worth anything?” Do they predict the future of a nation’s economy? He reviewed the evidence and concluded that for the United States and about a dozen of the world’s most advanced nations, “standings in the league tables of international tests are worthless. There is no association between test scores and national success, and, contrary to one of the major beliefs driving U.S. education policy for nearly half a century, international test scores are nothing to be concerned about. America’s schools are doing just fine on the world scene.”

Baker argued that the purveyors of doom and gloom were committing the “ecological correlation fallacy.” It is a fallacy to generalize that what is good for an individual (a higher test score, for example) must be right for the nation as a whole.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, he said, but evidence, not just an assumption, is needed to make the case.”

His research found no reliable connection.


Percentage of 15-year-old students performing at PISA mathematics literacy proficiency levels 5 and above and below level 2, by education system: 2012

Percentage of 15-year-old students performing at PISA mathematics literacy proficiency levels 5 and above and below level 2, by education system: 2012. Source.

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  • I’m not worried either.

    Break down the results by race, and white Americans are well above the white average for the world and pretty close to the top.

    • So CAL Snowman

      And yet our White nations are being invaded by millions upon millions of these so called low IQ peasants. IQ doesn’t mean a damn thing if we don’t put it to use saving our own people from destruction and doom. High IQ White people are designing warp drives for NASA and building quantum computers while MAYBE having a child or two. Meanwhile the dimwit low IQ browns and blacks are pumping out future foot soldiers in the coming clash of civilizations. Nature does not necessarily select for a high IQ population as a high IQ is NOT a guarantee of reproductive success.

      • The movie Idiocracy immediately comes to mind.

        • 48224

          So true. A great movie.

      • CoweringCoward

        Yes, our BIGGEST problem are the highest IQ, theoretical geniuses that have embraced the whole egalitarian lie. People so damn open minded their brains have fallen out. Without whites facilitating other whites being displaced/replaced it would NEVER EVER HAPPEN.

    • sbuffalonative

      Noooooo, when blacks fail. we ALL fail. Didn’t you get the memo?

  • So what they are saying is that test scores tend to track along racial lines, with the White countries(especially the Northern European ones) with more homogeneous populations scoring higher than those with growing black and brown populations? hmmmm…

    One question: Why is Shanghai listed and not China as a whole?

    • So CAL Snowman

      Probably the same reason they don’t go out into the agrarian sections of China to do their IQ tests.

      • Oil Can Harry

        Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

        The lying Chinese gov’t only releases test scores from their major cities, deliberately excluding those from the peasants in the poorer, rural areas in order to skew the numbers upward.

        Frankly, PISA should refuse to accept China’s bogus stats.

  • MekongDelta69

    What it says:
    “…the average scores for U.S. students were not very much different from any of the previous comparison years.”

    What it should say:
    “…the average scores for non-white U.S. students were not very much different from any of the previous comparison years.”

  • Bergeron

    Steve Sailer covers this quite well over on his blog.

  • Talltrees

    Where U.S. stands shouldn’t be a surprise. See Mexico at 1….very near bottom of list. Now, if broken down into races and ethnicities, the picture would be much more clear.

  • sbuffalonative

    Why can’t our schools be more like those in Shanghai

    I could tell you but you’d call me a racist.

    • willbest

      They aren’t just racist. They fight like hell to keep the poor chinese out of their “public” school system. Also, the parents in China riot when their children aren’t allowed to cheat. You can just assume all China data is pretty much worthless

      • “The parents in China riot when their children aren’t allowed to cheat.”

        The Chinese are the ones with the plans, wealth, capability and determination to build a lunar base — while we pay the Russians for taxi rides to the ISS.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    How many BUZILLIONS of $$$$$$$ of REPARATIONS have we already spent to…not educate our people but to…close the achievement gap?

    How much more? The big picture never changes but we just keep refusing to see…LIMITS. Except limits to the reparations bill… Where’s that limit I wonder?

  • Spartacus

    I knew I had seen something relevant yesterday ! From the National Center for Education Statistics:

    • Where would Romania stand in this list?

      • Spartacus

        It’s on the list, below average . Not worried though – our schools are such a mess, it’d be weird if we got a good score .

    • So CAL Snowman

      African Americans scored ABOVE Mexico! Oh my god we are so so so screwed.

      • Jefferson

        Some people underestimate how low the I.Q of the average Mestizo is. There is a reason why the majority of Mestizos who come to America end up working in low paying jobs like Taco Bell and McDonald’s for example.

        You do not exactly need to be a rocket scientist to flip burgers and put ground beef, cheese and lettuce inside a taco shell.

        • There was a TV news item last week about an illegal greaserita who was complaining she couldn’t make ends meet on her McDonald’s wages and demanded that she be paid $15 an hour for flipping burgers.

          Apparently nobody thought to ask this brown dimwit whether she thought anyone would actually be willing to pay eight dollars for a Big Mac. Without actually increasing worker productivity, the only thing a minimum wage of $15 an hour would accomplish is across-the-board consumer price inflation that would leave the working poor right back where they started. I imagine this sort of thing is too complicated for a Mexican to understand.

          • Before that would happen, the mechanization of fast feeders would happen.

            While we’re on that subject, I keep hearing this meme pop up on some of our favorite websites, that we can hack our way to immigration control by doing nothing but raise the minimum wage. I can pretty much guarantee you that if that happens, there will be many more violations of the minimum wage, that the authorities will ignore because of the “racism” and “xenophobia” of doing so.

            You simply can’t hack your way around supply and demand by fiddling around with price floors and price ceilings. Want higher wages that will come by way of immigration control? Control immigration.

          • Chip Carver

            The “protests” that have sprouted up here in LA and in NYC so far have been a bust. They’ve been presented with “in camera effects”. The shots presented on TV are tight on three to five people with signs. Why? Because about 15 people show up to boisterously campaign for “fair wages”. And most of those people, yes I use the term loosely, are union reps. The now “Hispanic” run unions are making an effort to unionize fast food workers, since here in LA all the jobs are held by these “immigrants”. You can’t find a non-Latrino in what was traditionally a job for high schoolers unless you get outside LA. However, the unions can’t get any of their potential members to put in the effort for a protest, one reason being the high turnover rate in these jobs amongst most of America’s new chosen population.

            There have been several interesting articles on how paying these chuckleheads $15/hr would affect prices. Another dollar or two instantly tacked on to the price of most items would effectively kill off the customer base for Big Macs, Whoppers, and Jumbo Jacks. Then again, who controls the “hispanics” who ostensibly run those unions? We all know. Maybe there’s more here than what’s stated or first meets the eye.

    • willbest

      Your list is a testament to the superiority of the US educational system. We can educate Mexicans better than Mexico can.

  • bigone4u

    Notice that there are no countries from “darkest Africa” in the list. It would be too painful for liberals to include those countries in the study since they would make up the bottom. But hey, the truth hurts sometimes, so let’s get the Africans into the study. Leaving blacks out is so so raycissssst.

  • “For one thing, U.S. students have never scored at or even near the top of international assessments. Not ever.”


    Long before the first internation scholastic assessments, way back in the days of steam locomotives, the USA had the best educated workforce in the world. A high school diploma was earned by many, and it meant more than today’s college degrees for anything but the professions.

    Most large railroads offered night courses in thermodynamics (= calculus) and locomotive design for those steam locomotive road engineers ambitious enough to want to rise through the ranks and become design engineers themselves.

    How far we have fallen. Yet we have not hit the bottom.

    • CoweringCoward

      Yeah but on this trajectory, if we don’t hit it soon we will be in orbit.

      • “… soon we will be in orbit.”


        In spite of not understanding Newton’s Laws.

        • CoweringCoward

          Well, after all, those are about the ONLY laws our “diversities” seem to be able to follow.

  • Jefferson

    Where does Haiti rank ? What about South Africa ? Nigeria ? The Congo ? Kenya ?

    • CoweringCoward

      Uhmm, off the chart, which end I will leave to you my friend.

    • JohnEngelman

      People there might be so low on the scale they cannot be tested.

  • John K

    Think how much higher our scoring would be as a nation if we weren’t forced to pay education costs for illegal aliens and we could reinstate segregation to separate white children from black savages.

    The “immigrants” coming here today are here for the handouts. Like blacks, they’ve learned to work the system.

    This is the result of 60+ years of the lunatics running the asylum. America is doomed.

    • Chip Carver

      More likely it’s the end of domination by a certain group in the US. They’ve shot themselves in the foot with their anti-White immigration laws and overall group hatred and jealousy of Whites. Their system will collapse and that will present a good chance, not our only chance, but a good chance to fix many problems.

    • MBlanc46

      “America is doomed.”

      I really wish that I could think of a compelling argument to rebut you. But I can’t. Unless something changes soon, it will be over.

  • Chip Carver

    Actually it’s encouraging. When you consider how lousy, downright rotten the public schools are in the US when it comes to curricula. I don’t mean our schools in the inner-city. I’m talking about what our government DEMANDS be rammed down the throats of White children, in terms of PC, along with dumbed down material. Dumbed down material that the Latinos and Blacks cannot get through, which proves them to be basically ineducable. This same dumbed-down is force fed to Whites as “education”, as “cutting edge”. As others have mentioned, separate the scores of the Blacks and Browns, likely close to 40% of the overall test takers, from the US score, and the change is dramatic.

    It’s encouraging that White students as well as they do. A side note to the naysayers as to Whites not being able to perform as well as Asians overall or as a group, or even better. Not so fast. Asians do well in an academic arena where memorization is key, rote is king. Couple this with genetic (yes, dirty word) based visuo-spatial ability that helps in some areas of computation, and you have high test scores. Until we get to areas where true / false isn’t king, never mind moving away from applied mathematics. Look at the scores of Whites vs Asians in the US when it comes to getting into Medical School – www (dot) affirmativeactionhoax (dot) com/additions/ – interesting information. It might very well be true that a skill from the Ice Age that helps with mathematics in some ways is overblown as an indicator of overall intelligence. And yes, we can go back to that old, but true, stereotype of Whites apparently being more inventive and creative than Asians. I’m not attacking Asians either, just pointing out things that are ignored, or denied by those who consistently seek to kick Whites to the curb. Whites do better in real world situations – not as automatons, study grinds, people with no imagination who study constantly because there is nothing else going on “up there”. Credit the Asians with taking school as a deadly serious affair.

    A full collapse of the systems currently in place in the US, Europe, literally all White countries, is likely going to happen. Those who worked as a group to put our current immigration laws in place, who lobby to destroy the countries they feed upon, are shooting themselves in the foot with those same policies. Not to mention their increasingly lazy performance academically, as their children put in less and less effort (as a group) because they “know” they’ll be getting into a decent school even with mediocre grades and test scores, or falsified test scores. Their era of dominance is likely rushing to an end.

    A caveat to all the test talk – It would be interesting to see if those administering the tests were relying on self-reporting from the various regions.

  • CourtneyfromAlabama

    I am getting tired of seeing China represented by its most educated regions. There should be only one category for China and it should measure the country as a whole. If that were the case, then we wouldn’t have such a monstrous list of Asian “countries” mentioned before we get to the first European country.

    • JohnEngelman

      The imperial exam system bred the Chinese for superior intelligence. For two thousand years young men who could pass the exams entered the scholar gentry. They were given big incomes, and expected to have several wives and many children. That is why Chinese Americans usually outperform white Gentiles in school, and on mental aptitude tests.

    • Chip Carver

      Courtney, you are correct in Asian countries being selective as to who gets tested. It jibes with Richard Lynn’s remarks on Ashkenazi “average IQ”, wherein he points out that the false average of 113 – 115 so often stated for this group was based on one test given to a small group of youngsters in a class for gifted students. Not exactly representative. Google Lynn’s papers, and you find the Ashkenazi average to be about 108. Lynn says the group’s cohesiveness has a lot to with success, the training at home. Whites are often claimed to have an average IQ of 100 compared to 105 or so for E. Asians, yet when broken down country by country, Germans and Poles are at 106, etc. Time to break down the White ethnic groups as is done for E. Asians being separated from SE Asians, Jews from Whites, etc.

      The usual suspects mention “Gentile” youngsters being outperformed by the Chinese. Gentiles only? The dirty secret is that Asian students are outperforming Jewish students in the US as well, mopping the floor with them overall. The Jewish kids are getting lazier with each passing year. Look at what Ron Unz’s research on college admissions has proven – along with Kevin MacDonald’s. Jewish youngsters are getting into college so often now for reasons other than test scores and grades that there’s no reason for them to study for hours on end, to work hard as they were known for in the past. Not only the “best” Jewish students, the mediocre Jewish students are enjoying easy rides to good schools. They are now crowding out thousands of more qualified White students – yet they make sure to be classified as White when the ethnic breakdown of students is presented. Playing it both ways. Jewish to get in, White when it counts against Whites. Yes, a percentage of Asian students are hurt by this calculated malfeasance as well. We could go into cheating and falsification of records but that’s for another time.

      Scores for Whites have been dropping for 50 years with the destruction of our school systems and yet Whites still outperform Asians by the time the final two years of college roll around. Never mind comparing White advances in science and technology to decades of Asians posting high academic test scores and then having to resort to industrial espionage and our traitorous government policies regarding the US Patent system that was destroyed under Clinton at the behest of Japan and China, never mind the usual suspects. Now they can roll in, look at your work, steal it, backdate their paperwork, and then proceed to beat you in a US court system now rigged to clobber US inventors. Especially White male inventors.

      • je suis paganisme

        The Asians are also creaming the Jews in orchestral music. The stereotypical violin player (especially in high school orchestras) used to be Jewish, probably for a variety of reasons, which may or may not have had anything to do with musical superiority. No more. The strings are over-represented with Asians. The parents of Orientals push them from an early age. Jews used to do this. White Europeans used to do this.
        My daughter was beaten out of first chair in flute by a young Chinese lady. She applied herself more, got back first chair, and kept it.

        I got tired long ago of the Ashkenazi nonsense and charade. It has never jibed with what I have observed about my Jewish friends. Now we are getting it about the Asians. As you suggest, it is a temporal bubble.

        When the Great Malaise is over, we Whites will again invest ourselves in the lives of our children. Those who are doing so now have seen remarkable results.

        What else is there, except our future in our children?

        • Chip Carver

          The tribe is in control, coasting in some ways, as they always end up doing. They can never see or admit it either, and this always, eventually, leads to them taking a tumble. It will happen.

          One thing to note is that in musical contests, I have observed talented Whites robbed several times, the judges, Asian and / or Jewish blatantly favoring their own. Most of the time this doesn’t happen, but I’ve seen it. What I also observed on a couple of occasions was White youngsters losing out to Asians because the Jewish judges couldn’t bear to admit a White was best on the day. And more than a few of the White people in the audience were aware of it, could hear it, see it, but quietly grumbled and let it go. The went along, while looking distracted from a good hit of cognitive dissonance, they couldn’t quite put a finger on what they had just seen, but somehow knew they could. You know what I mean.

          Yes, the Asians push their children. Whites should get back to this. Take a look at all the books on raising children put forth by The Usual Suspects. They’re aimed at White parents, and almost all of them tell Whites to NOT push their children, just let them be, let them discover themselves. This bunk is by design. Unfortunately too many gullible Whites eat it up.

        • Grantland

          What else is there, except our future in our children?

          • je suis paganisme

            C’est bien ça!

  • JohnEngelman

    Is anyone surprised that with large black and Hispanic populations we did not score better? I’m surprised that we scored as well as Sweden. How did that happen?

    Not only do we have large black and Hispanic populations, but we waste time and money in futile efforts to bring them up to our standards of performance.

    • CoweringCoward

      Sweden musta decided to “taste the rainbow” as well.

      • Brian

        20% of their population is foreign-born now. They actually _invited_ them in…presumably out of boredom or self-hatred.

    • Jefferson

      America still has enough high I.Q Asian and White students to keep this country academically competitive, at least for the time being.

      But if the pro-amnesty crew in Washington D.C have their way, in the future the U.S will be on the same academic level as The Dominican Republic for example, as they flood America’s public schools with more 3rd worlders with low a I.Q.

      • JohnEngelman

        There is no reason to allow the immigration of inferior races.

        • “Inferior races”? OMG! Even I don’t say that, though I utterly believe it.

          • JohnEngelman

            When the little boy said, “The Emperor has no clothes,” everyone else was surprised to realize that they were not the only one’s who noticed.

  • M&S

    They are making a fundamental mistake. IQ and high test scores -do- correlate (obviously) but the last paragraph of the article basically makes it clear:



    Baker argued that the purveyors of doom and gloom were committing the “ecological correlation fallacy.” It is a fallacy to generalize that what is good for an individual (a higher test score, for example) must be right for the nation as a whole. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, he said, but evidence, not just an assumption, is needed to make the case.”



    That a high IQ as intelligently able to detect abuses of power is not what the global elites want from society, especially white society. IMO, this is because moderately smart people become rich by simple application of self to success in everyday matters rather than inventing fusion or cures for cancer and this inordinately speeds as much as biases the accumulation of wealth towards a single population when the -resources- needed for wealth creation (and the slave labor populations and the future junk consumerists) are all to be found in areas overrun by the dumb who have not yet exploited those resources for their own societies.

    In the real world, we call ‘correlation fallacies’ a confirmation bias but based on the data Baker and Strauss provide, it is not obvious that the U.S. is ‘better off for want of being dumber’ because ‘success’ is not quantified as both what it does and how stable it is, for the population as a whole.

    A country is dirt, it cannot be ‘successful’.

    A nation is a people born unto a common genetic algorithm whose success or failure is optimized to the society they make as the response to the environment they are in.

    If your measure of ‘success’ is rampant debt consumerism, dependent on the world for it’s sustainment and creating ever smaller cliques of wealth based on sell off of relevant industry and real property to foreign interests, then America is a blatant failure and it’s just a matter of time before that failure is made obvious (Germany want’s their gold back, we say ‘No!’, Germany has no way to argue the point. The WORLD want’s their gold back, we say ‘No!’, we have little to stop them from refusing to use our currency.).

    On a deeper level, what Baker is talking about is regression towards a menial economy where the population exists in a feudalist state of deep class divides.

    No, I am not kidding, this is on the table of every international political and economic discussion group on the planet as a means to contain growth of the wealth class both to sustain the value of money (the biggest virtual fraud there is) and to force labor to support the existing wealth class.

    If your measure of ‘success’ is mass implosion of globalist societies (i.e. the reality of a ‘global village’ is mudhut) then low PISA scores is a great marker for the conversion of first world societies to functionally medieval-stupid levels amenable to instigation of this type of restrictive class rule.

    What is also true is that high end societies have high levels of resource consumption and pollution issues and that one marker for how wasteful they are is (_IQ and the Wealth Of Nations_) how smart they are because IQ leads directly to productivity and productivity in a cog-driven society where jobs are created just to employ people rather than because the job they do is useful overall, productivity leads to massive waste.

    But IQ-Productivity scaling is just one marker.

    Societies which have huge waste (India and Mexico) also have more tons of trash per household per year than environmentally conscious white Americans and vastly lower IQ, more fertile, populations whose growth is alinearly increasing (India will have 3.2 billion people an area the size of Texas and Alaska by 2060).

    Because the next major steps towards stabilizing our society are going to be almost entirely high-tech driven (robots to eliminate ditch digger labor requirements as paid positions, genomics and exogenics to make people smarter and delink reproductive assurance from female whims, fusion for power, field mechanics for non reaction:mass propulsion etc.) we cannot afford to be wishy washy on this. Because our failure will ultimately cascade onto others trying to use our model.
    We need to rapidly redevelop very high white IQs via enhanced upper tier gifted programs and stop trying to lever the world with a toothpick for a fulcrum on the stupid assumption of Lysenkoist egalitarianism.

    As has always been the case on this planet, multiple (hominid descended) homo sapiens sub species now exist with different IQs and different developmental rates as genetic survival algorithms. Some will never leave the agrarian base state we started at some 10,000 years ago.

    Others will peak much higher than we do if we don’t get our act together and gain dominant control over -who comes next- (if any) in terms of using technology to improve-self as opposed to toys.

    But the key to assuring that all survive with minimal impingement on their folkways is pushing tested IQ to the limits rather than attempting to minimize it’s effects on societal conditions as potential.

    Lies won’t make people equal. Lies will make billions dead.

  • JohnEngelman

    A high school friend of mine who later taught black students in public school told me, “Those with the most self esteem have the least to be proud of.”

  • Chip Carver

    Probably has to do with the Asian students putting in so much study time for reading while the Whites likely put in zero – maybe they concentrated on math, or it’s a cluster of Whites with high mathematical aptitude. Or maybe the scores were juxtaposed, lol. Actually I doubt that happened.

    If you read “A Question of Intelligence” by Seligman, he presents work from Lynn and others that shows that Japanese students putting in tremendous hours of study each day would generally score the same, sometimes a fraction better, than Whites who didn’t really study at all to increase reading comprehension etc. The researchers felt that all the long hours of study gave the Asians inflated verbal IQ averages, it helps on some areas of the verbal IQ test, so their actual verbal intelligence, which is generally lower than Whites’, is probably even a tad farther behind the White average in the real world. Keep in mind Whites generally score the same in the verbal and visuospatial parts of IQ tests while non-whites (especially Asians) tend to score better on the visuospatial parts of the tests than they do on the verbal portions. Also, most people don’t realize that verbal intelligence is not only reading comprehension. Like some others, I’ve always felt that balance between verbal and visuospatial reasoning in Whites is one of the reasons for the inventiveness and creativity, one of the reasons that Whites seem to have a capacity for divergent thinking that is far beyond other racial groups. All groups have their strengths and weaknesses.