Much has been written recently about the results from standardized international tests in mathematics, science, and reading. As a private mathematics and physics tutor, I like to look at the scores whenever they come out and to read the conclusions that others draw from them. Most of the commentary has been quite predictable but this article from The Atlantic takes a much-neglected perspective. Its key point is that, beyond a basic level of performance in the core academic subjects, other factors become more important for a country’s economic success.
While I am glad that these tests are conducted I would like to see more emphasis placed on international competitions that test innovation and resourcefulness. For examples of these, take a look at this list of events sponsored by companies like Intel, Siemens, and Google.
My personal biases are visible here. When I was a student I always hated tests but loved doing experiments and building just about anything.