Demystifying International Tests: What Makes the PISA Special?

Hint: It's not about comparing students across nations.

If you've heard about how American students are scoring lower than their international peers on standardized tests, you've probably heard about the PISA. (No, it's not an exam about a famous Italian tower that leans.) The Program for International Student Assessment is a test that's given every three years to measure and compare the achievement of 15-year-olds across the globe.

It's a good idea to get familiar with the PISA because we'll probably hear more about its influence in U.S. education policy in the future. Economists predict that if we boost our scores by a mere 25 points over the next 20 years, our GDP will increase by $41 trillion. So, to help us understand what the PISA is and what it does, the folks behind the test, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) just released this great animated video.

In particular, the video offers some great examples of how the PISA is all about applying what you've learned instead of just regurgitating facts. It also explains how getting caught up in merely comparing one nation to another isn't the ultimate goal of the test. Instead, the OECD sees the PISA as a tool to foster education collaboration and best practices-sharing across the globe. Of course, how its intended to be used and how it actually is used are two different things, but this is a pretty interesting look into how the PISA makers want it to be implemented.

via YouTube / Real Time with Bill Maher

Two great thinkers who agree America has it wrong about race appeared on the October 18th episode of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," philosopher Thomas Chatterton Williams and astrophysicist, author, and "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson.

While both people come from separate disciplines, each agreed that the basic concepts of race that are deeply ingrained into American culture are inherently wrong.

Keep Reading Show less
via Asim Bharwani / Flickr and Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Isn't it rather arbitrary that men and women both have nipples and a man's can be seen in public but a woman's cannot?

Is it because women's nipples have a function and men's are essentially useless that we can see one and not the other? Or is it because since the beginning of time men have policed women's bodies and have decided that they are sexual in nature?

Yep, that's the reason.

Keep Reading Show less
via Shoshi Parks

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less
via Law and Crime News / Twitter

In August, Anne Sacoolas, 42, the wife of and American intelligence official, collided with motorcyclist Harry Dunn on the road outside the Royal Air Force base in Northamptonshire, England.

Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road and said she had "no time to react" to Dunn coming down the hill. The teenager died at the scene of the accident.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less