Saturday, July 21, 2012

Correlating test scores with self-reports

In a back-page commentary in this week's Education Week, Yang Zhao, associate dean for global education in the college of education at the University of Oregon, argues that testing well on standardized tests correlates with weak entrepreneurial qualities skills. His evidence?

Out of the innovation-driven economies, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are among the best PISA [Program for International Student Assessment] performers, but their scores on the measure of perceived capabilities or confidence in one's ability to start a new business are the lowest. The correlation coefficients between scores on the 2009 PISA in math, reading, and science and 2011 GEM in "perceived entrepreneurial capability" in the 23 developed countries are all statistically significant. (By the way, these countries have also traditionally dominated the top spots on the other influential international test, the Trends in International Math and Science Study, or TIMSS.)
Note that Zhao's evidence is based on perceived capabilities or confidence. Using such data, one might also conclude that testing well on standardized math tests correlates with weak math skills. After all, as Jay Matthews reports in the Washington Post:
According to the Washington think tank's annual Brown Center report on education, 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders surveyed expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of U.S. eighth-graders. But a respected international math assessment showed Koreans scoring far ahead of their peers in the United States, raising questions about the importance of self-esteem.
Several countries in Asia and some in Europe tend to beat the United States in math scores, even though their students show less satisfaction with performance.


Daniel Ethier said...

And yet, according to

in the United States, immigrants are twice as likely to start their own company.

TerriW said...

Well, the drive to immigrate and the drive to start their own company probably share a little something in common, no?

Katharine Beals said...

I suspect that the biggest factor in rates of entrepreneurship is regulation. In some countries (for example the US) it's a lot easier to start a business than in others.
My guess is that formal education (and formal testing) has a much smaller influence, if any.