WSJ Story: New Calculation: Math in Preschool

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  • #1
rhody
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I normally don't post here, and wanted to run this data by experts who can substantiate or refute the findings in this WSJ story:
U.S. elementary-school children have shown slow but steady progress on national math exams. However U.S. 15-year-olds were 25th among 34 developed countries on a 2009 international math exam, a ranking that has remained stagnant since 2000, when the exam was first given.

If I understand this correctly all participating countries are given the SAME international math exam, and the US ranks 25th and Israel ranked 31st for average Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 math literacy scores among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The ranking for Israel strikes me oddly, leading me to question how it can rank six spots below the US.

From this link in April of 2007, it says Israel ranked 39th in the same assessment, four years earlier.
Students in Israel rank 39th out of 57 countries in scholastic performace, according to the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international exam administered in 2006. The results were released on Tuesday, the 47th day of the secondary school teachers' strike.

Note the text in blue above. Can the low scores be correlated with the secondary school teacher's strike ?

A general observation, I believed, perhaps naively, that Israel produced more great mathematician's and physicists per capita than any other country in the world. For this reason, it led me to question the rankings results. Where did the students make up the slack at higher education levels ?

Rhody...
 

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  • #2
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While there certainly have been many great mathematicians of Jewish ethnic descent, I don't think that Israel as a country produces a disproportionate number of mathematicians. I believe that most of the well-known Jewish mathematicians in recent history came from Europe (Western and Eastern).

I am no expert (and am not Jewish myself), so someone may prove me wrong. There have been various discussions about the cultural factors that promoted math and science as admirable careers in the Ashkenazi Jewish community. You might be able to track some down online.
 
  • #3
MarcoD
If I understand this correctly all participating countries are given the SAME international math exam, and the US ranks 25th and Israel ranked 31st for average Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 math literacy scores among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The ranking for Israel strikes me oddly, leading me to question how it can rank six spots below the US.

I would guess it is the discrepancy between averages and individuals. While Dutch, on average, produce ok-ish math students in high school, the environment is not such that those who excel are pushed to their full capability. There are other countries where the average is lower, but those who excel are pushed more by, for instance, going (or gaining entrance) to a private or special school - like the US, some of the former communist countries, and maybe Israel.
 
  • #4
rhody
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This is a general observation as this is my first post in Math and Science Learning. In other forums there are usually about 100+ views per post on average, and yet in this thread after two posts, the number of views is 1245. Is this because there are more "hard core" consistent PF math members, or because of the subject itself ?

For the record, I have no "hidden" agenda based on the data presented for Israel's 15 year old's math ranking.

Rhody...
 
  • #5
Office_Shredder
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Even accepting the premise that Israel does produce a disproportionate number of mathematical geniuses (which I don't believe to be true, I'm fairly certain all the Jewish mathematicians are from NYC) you would want to check their rankings from 15-30 years ago to draw any conclusions. Maybe their education system is in decline.

To be honest Israel is not a particularly first worldy country across the board, so it doesn't surprise me that they don't have spectacular educational testing results
 
  • #6
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I normally don't post here, and wanted to run this data by experts who can substantiate or refute the findings in this WSJ story:


If I understand this correctly all participating countries are given the SAME international math exam, and the US ranks 25th and Israel ranked 31st for average Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 math literacy scores among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The ranking for Israel strikes me oddly, leading me to question how it can rank six spots below the US.

From this link in April of 2007, it says Israel ranked 39th in the same assessment, four years earlier.


Note the text in blue above. Can the low scores be correlated with the secondary school teacher's strike ?

A general observation, I believed, perhaps naively, that Israel produced more great mathematician's and physicists per capita than any other country in the world. For this reason, it led me to question the rankings results. Where did the students make up the slack at higher education levels ?

Rhody...

So you think that all physicists and mathematicians of Jewish descent are products of Israel? What a joke...
 
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  • #7
rhody
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So you think that all physicists and mathematicians of Jewish descent are products of Israel? What a joke...
pergradus,

No, I don't. In the back of my mind I was anticipating a backlash. You did not fail to disappoint. I am not Jewish. I have friends who are of all colors, races and religions, including Jewish people. If you don't have anything positive (backed by supporting data) to say, then I encourage you to keep your opinions to yourself.

Rhody... :mad:
 
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  • #8
Chi Meson
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So you think that all physicists and mathematicians of Jewish descent are products of Israel? What a joke...
I looked and looked and couldn't see where Rhody came close to saying that.
 
  • #9
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This is a general observation as this is my first post in Math and Science Learning. In other forums there are usually about 100+ views per post on average, and yet in this thread after two posts, the number of views is 1245. Is this because there are more "hard core" consistent PF math members, or because of the subject itself ?

For the record, I have no "hidden" agenda based on the data presented for Israel's 15 year old's math ranking.

Rhody...

it would be interesting to see where the data is coming from. even in the USA, a lot of the religious jewish kids (the boys at least) are only getting about an 8th-grade secular education. whatever the minimum requirement from the government is. after that, they go into religious studies because they believe there is no higher goal than studying torah. if these data are a comingling of secular and religious students, then a comparison of the two might tell the story.

the whole sefardi/ashkenazi thing seems like a can of worms...
 
  • #10
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rhody, i came across this today, and it seems to address some of the questions. pdf at link.

http://taubcenter.org.il/index.php/...nd-its-implications-a-visual-roadmap/lang/en/

The State of Israel’s Education and Its Implications – A visual roadmap

Author: Dan Ben-David, published under Special Issues
26 Oct 2011

The Taub Center’s annual State of the Nation Reports have put a bright spotlight on the impact that education has in determining living standards and income gaps. This document summarizes main points of this issue through a brief visual roadmap that underlines the importance of education for Israel’s society and economy, the state of the country’s education, and the implications.

Each page contains one or two graphs accompanied by a brief explanation. More complete and detailed analyses of the issues covered by each figure may be found in the State of the Nation Reports available on the Taub Center website.

Download Publication (137.7kb)
 
  • #11
rhody
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rhody, i came across this today, and it seems to address some of the questions.

Thanks Proton,

After a quick read of the "The Taub Center for Social 16 Policy Studies in Israel" you provided, I was surprised to find that:
The difference in scores between Israel and the 25 OECD countries in Figure 8a was 47 points in 2009
and 59 points in 2006. Until this past decade, Israel’s Education Ministry did not measure the level of
education in the country in a way that could allow comparisons and evaluations of changes in achievement
levels over time. Therefore, it is not possible to know since when Israel’s achievement levels have been
so low relative to the other countries.

and...

Income inequality within Israel is among the highest in the Western world. The more the
educational system represents a springboard into the labor market, the more today’s
educational disparities will be reflected in tomorrow’s income disparities. Therefore, while
the low Israeli average score reflects the general national level of education, the very high
gaps in achievement within Israel point to severe problems in reducing income inequality in
the future.

and...

Since the nineties, at least, about half of Israel’s children receive an education that is
beneath the level given in the First World. The other half receive an education that is low
even by Third World standards – and this other half will become a majority in the coming
years.

But there is hope. In contrast to the level of education provided to the children of Israel, the
level of knowledge in the country is among the highest in the world, as evidenced by the
universities, high tech and other sectors currently at the cutting edge of human knowledge
and pushing the envelope forward. All that is needed to implement a sharp turnaround in
education is already here. The knowledge that is within Israel’s borders must be
encouraged and allowed to flow to each neighborhood, town and population in Israel.

Rhody...
 

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