In late October, BASIS Independent McLean continued its speaker series in the newly renovated auditorium with a conversation with Peng Yu, distinguished educator at one of the top high schools in Shanghai, China, and OECD Senior Policy Analyst Tue Halgreen on “Demystifying the Global Education Rankings,” In other words, we talked about “why the PISA matters.”
What is PISA, you ask? If you haven’t had a chance to read our blog post about it, you’ve probably come across it in the news without realizing. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an examination students cannot study for. It measures a 15-year-old’s ability to apply the skills and knowledge he or she has learned to real life scenarios in reading, science, and math.
Every three years when the results are released, United States education and business leaders take notice because America runs somewhere in the middle of the pack of all other industrialized nations and continues to see a stagnation in math, reading, and science scores. Our leaders rightly are disappointed with the results because these critical thinking and problem solving abilities are the very skills that are needed for our country to thrive in a 21st century knowledge economy.
Before the first PISA exam was administered in 2000, most nations believed that their education system was the best in the world. The first wave after the 2000 PISA results were released was self-reflective in nature. Many countries had to adjust their whole understanding of where they stood in relation to other nations. In the next wave, countries started to look at what other more successful schools were doing.
This is precisely what BASIS.ed founders Dr. Michael and Olga Block did when they created BASIS Tucson in 1998. They set their sights on becoming the best school in the world. Then they traveled far and wide taking what worked home with them.
So, what do the highest performing nations have in common? A key takeaway from our discussion with our guests is the simple truth that the highest performing education systems are where education is highly valued. In societies where the life of the mind is valued over all else, the best and the brightest become teachers and students want to come to school and work hard. There is a fundamental belief that all students can learn.
BASIS.ed-managed schools, in a sense, have the characteristics of the top performing nations. We focus only on what really matters: your child’s education. If it doesn’t contribute to your child learning, we don’t do it. That’s why we dedicate most of our resources to attracting the best, most knowledgeable teachers. Our teachers spend their entire adult lives learning their subject matter because they are passionate about it. It is this passion for what they know that lights the fire for learning in every child, that inspires students to dream about making a difference, to see the connection between what they learn in school and what they can do to make the world a better place.
The reason our schools take the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA) is so we know that we are delivering on our promise to you. If the BASIS.ed network were a country, we would be the highest performing nation in the world. That means our students, your children, are better prepared and more able than any other students in the world to realize what they were born to do.