Here is a great write up of the PISA scores and what they mean. Mel Riddile wrote the piece for NASSP. It is definitely worth a read. A few excerpts to whet your whistle:
Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, should be providing the nation with a proper vision and focus for public education. He knows our challenges all too well. He confirmed that he gets it when he recently wrote me saying, “We must build a culture nationally where great educators … choose to work with children and communities who need the most help.”
Tirozzi demonstrates the correlation between socio-economic status and reading by presenting the PISA scores in terms of individual American schools and poverty. While the overall PISA rankings ignore such differences in the tested schools, when groupings based on the rate of free and reduced lunch are created, a direct relationship is established.
There are several easy to understand charts accompanying the article. The end result, while there needs to be an emphasis and hard work in education, the real challenge may in addressing poverty.
Instead of finding blame to pass around, maybe its time that we actually acknowledge some of our real challenges.