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Brookings Report Takes on the PISA

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As state leaders and education advocates weigh evaluating U.S. students using international benchmarks, a new report argues that one prominent test, the PISA, is flawed and may not be appropriate for judging American schools on global standards.

The author, Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, also contends that questions asked on the Program for International Student Assessment surveys of students’ beliefs and attitudes about science reflect an ideological bias, which undermines the test’s credibility.

Here's our story on the report, which includes a response from the OECD, which oversees PISA, and the National Governors Association.

A separate part of the report deals with the performance of urban districts, following up on a 2001 analysis of their performance. The report finds that big-city districts made even larger gains than other districts in states. "They are closing the gap with suburban and rural districts, slowly, to be sure, but they are clearly making progress," Loveless' report says. He cites policies shifting power to city mayors as a possible factor, and No Child Left Behind, with its demands to improve achievement among low-performers, as possible factors.

A third section of the report says that many 8th graders are being put into algebra courses they simply aren't equipped to handle. I wrote about that issue last year.

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When help is needed for homework problems in math courses such as algebra, there are many websites online that can help. They can help with such topics as quadratic equations and factoring. Many science and business courses require an excellent knowledge of algebra.

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