PISA results: American Students as Creative Problem Solvers

pisa.ashxThe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently released the PISA 2012 Results, entitled Creative Problem Solving: Students’ Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems. It is the OECD’s first assessment of problem-solving skills and its first attempt to measure the creative skills that today’s economy demands from its workers.

Some are surprised to see an international test in which U.S. students are punching above their weight class. It turns out that American teens are better at trouble-shooting vexing problems than they are at algebra and geometry. The U.S. scored above the OECD average and on par with a dozen European countries on a test of problem-solving skills. That’s far better than analysts would have predicted based on our dismal showing on the most recent PISA math test. The OECD’s report gives American 15-year-olds particular credit for flexible thinking and bold use of intuition.

But it’s hardly time for a victory lap. The Asian powerhouses of Korea, Japan, Singapore and Shanghai far outstripped the U.S. on the problem-solving test. Just 11.6 percent of U.S. teens scored at the top two levels. In Korea, 35.2 percent of test-takers hit that mark. Canada, Finland and Australia also handily beat the U.S.

Try your hand at sample questions here: http://bit.ly/1lyhGiJ

A video presentation of this important report is also available directly from Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General, on how American fifteen-year-olds perform compared to their peers in top-performing nations.

Watch Schleicher’s presentation at http://youtu.be/WdE4vISrz2o

After his presentation, Schleicher sat down with Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise and Senior Fellow Robert Rothman to discuss the report and its implications for U.S. education policy. Topics of discussion included universal access to preschool, Common Core State Standards, and “deeper learning” competencies that all students need to succeed in college and a career.

Download the complete OECD report, PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems, at http://www.oecd.org/pisa/.