There’s been a lot of buzz in the news recently about student performance on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). While PISA results are informative from a data standpoint, there is not much information about how these exams lead to nationwide or global improvement in the classroom. At BASIS Independent Schools, we are excited to explore the implications of our results.

One of our network’s consistent excellent outcomes is that our 15-year-old students outperform their American and global peers on the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA). And although some countries may be stagnated or underperforming, BASIS Independent students continue to perform, on average, at the top 1% of U.S. schools, and at the top 3% of schools globally. How are these results possible, and what does that look like at BASIS Independent Schools?

Here’s a bit more background information:

What is the OECD and PISA?

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is the creator and facilitator for two specific exams. Every three years, the OECD publishes results from PISA, designed to evaluate education systems worldwide, comparing how students from different countries are doing academically. The OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA), which is administered annually and in which BASIS Independent students participate, is based on the PISA assessment, but instead tests schools, districts, and networks. PISA measures 15-year-olds’ abilities to use reading, mathematics, and science “literacies” (knowledge and skills) to meet real-life challenges.

These exams measure competencies in critical thinking, and results are benchmarked so that participants—from nations to networks—can compare their performance. Participating schools see their scores within a framework that explains the levels of complexity that their students have successfully navigated.

How do BASIS Independent Schools Measure up Internationally?

On a 1,000-point scale in each subject area on the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA), BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students scored 666 in math, 620 in science, and 607 in reading. These scores not only out-stripped the OECD Average and high-achieving Chinese provinces in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang, but also Singapore, the highest-scoring country in the 2018 exam.

In fact, students within the BASIS Independent Schools network are 6.5 times more likely than other U.S. students to score in the highest performance levels.

Empowering Education Through Data

The BASIS Independent Schools network has always been different—striking a balance between traditional and progressive education models and utilizing best practices from around the globe. Our relentless drive for excellence is informed by data from a variety of sources. At BASIS Independent Schools, we know that data both reflects our performance and informs our practice as educators.

Carolyn McGarvey, Chief Academic Officer, reinforces this practice: “Data empowers our Subject Expert Teachers to plan targeted instruction so that their students can meet specific goals, not only in their courses, but also in preparation for the complexity and rigor of tasks in the years ahead of them. A BASIS Independent education prepares students to be resourceful and thorough, and to think critically in all contexts. We are proud to be leaders and innovators when it comes to data in education!”

While educational data in general, and the PISA in particular, may have some critics, it has always been the BASIS Curriculum Schools’ tradition to constantly assess our curriculum and the effectiveness of our teaching. By embracing data that offers insights into the kinds of thinking at which our students excel, our schools remain as innovative as when the BASIS Curriculum was first established.

Ultimately, these results are a reflection of our program’s success: the unique spark found in BASIS Independent classrooms is a combination of our curriculum, benchmarked to the top education systems worldwide, and the passionate expert teachers who bring it to life. They work in unison to inspire students to recognize their full potential.

We are confident that our schools are the model of what others can achieve, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with our communities!