Shanghai PISA scores not representative of China

Interesting article by a Chinese-American scholar who studies Chinese migratory labor. He points out that the students in Shanghai who took the PISA tests, and who scored at the top of the various nations who engaged in the test, aren’t representative of Chinese students generally. An excerpt:

“… the contrast of the U.S. scores with Shanghai’s is not totally appropriate: It is comparing the entire U.S. population — including many who are on free or reduced-price lunches — with China’s cream of the crop, the Shanghai kids.

Even more important, but far less-known, is that in Shanghai, as in most other Chinese cities, the rural migrant workers that are the true urban working poor (totaling about 150 million in the country), are not allowed to send their kids to public high schools in the city. This is engineered by the discriminatory hukou or household registration system, which classifies them as “outsiders.” Those teenagers will have to go back home to continue education, or drop out of school altogether.

In other words, the city has 3 to 4 million working poor, but its high-school system conveniently does not need to provide for the kids of that segment. In essence, the poor kids are purged from Shanghai’s sample of 5,100 students taking the tests. The Shanghai sample is the extract of China’s extract. A fairer play would be to ask kids at [Alice Deal, Lafayette, Sidwell Friends, NCS, or St. Alban’s*] to race against Shanghai’s kids.”

Here is the link to the article:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2013808513_guest03chan.html

* The author used some fancy private school in Seattle that I’ve never heard of, since I live in the East coast Washington. So I inserted names of some schools I do know something about.

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