Impoverished Rural Chinese Also Smart

The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results from China outside of areas like Shanghai have finally been released. From the BBC:

China’s results in international education tests – which have never been published – are “remarkable”, says Andreas Schleicher, responsible for the highly-influential Pisa tests.

The Pisa 2009 tests showed that Shanghai was top of the international education rankings.

But it was unclear whether Shanghai and another chart-topper, Hong Kong, were unrepresentative regional showcases.

Mr Schleicher says the unpublished results reveal that pupils in other parts of China are also performing strongly.

“Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance.”

In particular, he said the test results showed the “resilience” of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds – and the “high levels of equity” between rich and poor pupils.

Schleicher attributes this to cultural differences, saying:

“In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education is the key to mobility and success.”

and also:

… it’s a philosophical difference – expecting all pupils to make the grade, rather than a “sorting mechanism” to find a chosen few.

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