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A Graph Stranger than Fiction

No regular posting this week: houseguests arrive from South Africa today for a holiday visit, and I am still mulling over some material encountered yesterday at a teachers’ conference in Wan Chai.

More soon, I hope, but I couldn’t resist reporting on a curious finding by the OECD in the wake of its 2012 PISA results: the “test score/interest paradox”.  Broadly speaking, it is a very surprising correlation between scores on the PISA science tests and interest in science topics as shown in a poll of students that accompanied the tests. The correlation is negative. That means that in general, there is a tendency for “countries” whose students who do not show a comparatively high interest in science topics to do better on the tests than those whose students report a high interest!

The discovery of this graph led me to the OECD report on PISA, which I will be digesting in due course. In the meantime, a curious observation. If you divide the graph in quadrants—low interest/high scores, high interest/high scores, low interest/low scores, and high interest/low scores, there is only one PISA entity (national or municipal) in the high interest/high score quadrant (and that just barely). This unique outlier is Hong Kong.

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