Problem solving, PISA and potential

From 21st century skills to Common Core State Standards, the education community continues to focus on the need to equip all children with problem-solving skills. Any educator knows that it isn’t enough to simply memorize facts. Successful learners need to know how they get the answers and how they can apply that process to other scenarios.

This week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA 2012 problem-solving results.

This is the first time OECD has measured problem solving. Based on the scores, students in the United States performed “above average.” Our peers included countries like France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Norway.

Singapore and Korea were the top problem-solving performers, handily outdistancing students in the United States. Other countries on top of the list included Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan and several Chinese provinces (which are scored separately).

Holly Yettick at Education Week has a good write-up of the PISA results.

What does this mean? The data will likely be further disaggregated and analyzed and debated for some time, scrutinized through whatever lens one views the state of public education. But one this is sure, while U.S. students did reasonably well, they still have far to go before they are among the top problem-solvers in the world.