Can International Test Score Comparisons Inform Educational Policy? A Closer Look at Student Performance in Russia and its Neighbors
35 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 2013
Russian 8th graders score relatively high on the TIMSS mathematics test. But they perform poorly on the PISA mathematics test compared to students in Eastern and Central European countries that traditionally taught a math curriculum similar to Russia’s. In this paper, we push beneath the surface of this puzzle by focusing on how students from higher and lower social class background in Russia performed over a decade on the PISA and TIMSS tests compared to students of similar social class background in Eastern European countries and in some much higher income neighbors in Western Europe. We also compare Russian students in Russia with those in Russian language schools in Latvia. We conclude that the Russian PISA “problem” is located mainly in the relatively low performance of higher social class students and may be more related to the Russian math curriculum or the test itself than students’ math knowledge.
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