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.


Some beauty pageants, like the Miss America competition, have done away with the swimsuit portions of the competitions, thus dipping their toes in the 21st century. Other aspects of beauty pageants remain stuck in the 1950s, and we're not even talking about the whole "judging women mostly on their looks" thing. One beauty pageant winner was disqualified for being a mom, as if you can't be beautiful after you've had a kid. Now she's trying to get the Miss World competition to update their rules.

Veronika Didusenko won the Miss Ukraine pageant in 2018. After four days, she was disqualified because pageant officials found out she was a mom to 5-year-old son Alex, and had been married. Didusenko said she had been aware of Miss World's rule barring mother from competing, but was encouraged to compete anyways by pageant organizers.

Keep Reading Show less

One mystery in our universe is a step closer to being solved. NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched last year to help scientists understand the sun. Now, it has returned its first findings. Four papers were published in the journal Nature detailing the findings of Parker's first two flybys. It's one small step for a solar probe, one giant leap for mankind.

It is astounding that we've advanced to the point where we've managed to build a probe capable of flying within 15 million miles from the surface of the sun, but here we are. Parker can withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and travels at 430,000 miles per hour. It's the fastest human-made vehicle, and no other human-made object has been so close to the sun.

Keep Reading Show less
via Sportstreambest / Flickr

Since the mid '90s the phrase "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" has been part of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's football team's lexicon.

Over the past few years, the team has taken the field flying a black skull-and-crossbones flag with an acronym for the phrase, "GFBD" on the skull's upper lip. Supporters of the team also use it on social media as #GFBD.

Keep Reading Show less