Nearly a year ago I pointed readers to an enlightening report from a group called America Achieves. The report showed how, based on international tests, even our nation’s middle-class students were falling behind their socioeconomic peers in many other countries. The findings reminded us why the bold innovators in Douglas County have been working to raise the bar.
But how do Dougco students themselves compare with their international counterparts? We have a fresh sample that offers a clear glimpse. Yesterday the district released 2012 PISA results for 15-year-olds in the two participating Dougco high schools:
When compared to the 34 countries involved in the PISA assessment, Highlands Ranch High School’s average scores are higher than national and international schools involved in the test. Ponderosa High School had similar results.
“We want to make sure students are really prepared on a world stage and that is why we like the PISA test,” said DCSD Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen. “If you look at Douglas County Schools scores against the rest of the country, we’ve done some really interesting things and may be performing better than Finland in some of our high schools – a country that is often regarded as one of the international leaders.”
That’s true. Both schools’ students outperformed Finland in math; Highlands Ranch (HRHS) did the same in reading literacy. Science scores for the two schools were in line with the oft-touted Scandinavian nation. On every measure, HRHS topped the average U.S. school with similar demographics and the average of developed nations. Ponderosa’s results were nearly as impressive.
The newly-released PISA results show students from the two Dougco high schools roughly on par with:
- Japan, Switzerland, and Liechstenstein [try saying that five times fast!] in Math;
- Estonia, Finland, and Korea in Science; and
- Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore in Reading.
This new data is essentially a small-scale update of the Global Report Card (GRC). Currently using 2009 results, the GRC makes district-level comparisons with selected countries on math and reading performance. If anything, the latest numbers suggest Dougco is continuing or slightly improving its position of relative strength.
These days especially, I like to proclaim good news whenever possible. Despite what the one-note critics and detractors may say, I believe a delicious piece of Dougco PISA news certainly qualifies!