The PISA Paradox: Boys R Bad Readers and Girls R Great – Again…and Again…and Again #CCK11 #ELTchat #edtech #ukedchat #edchat #technology #education #lrnchat #elearning #edreform #technology #Teachers #esl #efl #elt #ell #esol #TESOL #IATEFL

PISA - Girls read better than boys - in all countries. (Credit: Wordle word cloud)

“Girls have a huge lead over boys in reading.” This quotation comes to us from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. Finland was ranked third in the world, number 3 out of 65 nations tested on the 2009 PISA exam.

With this perspective, there is no cause for concern about the girls. Still, we would like to know more. For example, what’s going on with the boys from Finland?

Here’s the answer: “In Finland, the gap between girls and boys was the largest in the OECD. There were clearly more boys than girls among poor readers, and correspondingly more girls than boys among excellent readers. Girls were also noticeably more active readers overall.”

We suddenly get a different picture of the boys and girls in Finland. Number three in the world means that a large number of girls are excellent readers. And we can also understand that out of all 65 countries tested, this nation, Finland, had the largest performance gap between boys and girls…and they still came in third!

Interesting. Very interesting. What about the rest of the world, the other 64 countries tested?

The girls were better than the boys – in all countries, all 65 countries tested. In not a single country was the performance of the boys better than the girls, in 2009.

In 2006, the same story. Girls better than boys, in all countries.

In 2003, the same story.

In 2000, the same story.

Do you notice a pattern developing here? :-)

I see a pattern. Girls read better than boys.

The boys have had 4 separate opportunities to show they can read better than the girls. The result has been futility, utter desolation.

For the girls, what an extraordinary, remarkable accomplishment.

Now here’s the question, the elephant in the room: Are you comfortable with the boys inability to read as well as the girls?

As a teacher, I’m uncomfortable with that statistic, on a globally accepted test like PISA, which tests competency, and not curriculum. In other words, the PISA test is about how well you can use what you have read to achieve some desired result.

What should be done? I don’t know, it’s the honest truth. What I do know, is what can be done. Three years ago I was teaching a class of sisxth grade boys who were also reading poorly.

I first critically examined my teaching. Once I was confident that this was not the explanation, I investigated how children learn to read. Finally, I devised interventions which addressed the issues I identified.

I finished with noticeable improvements in the reading of all my students, and later published an article in the “English Teaching Forum”, to share my experience with colleagues.

The PISA results have caused me to take another look at my findings from that time, three years ago. I discovered that my investigation findings are still relevant, today.

I am sharing that with you, dear friend. It’s free, no charge, no cost, as always. Sharing with you is what I do, because it makes you and me better teachers, and ultimately, benefits our students, both the girls, and hopefully, the boys also.

Here is the link to my Power Point, called, “Unlocking Reading For All Students”. It’s really good, and I’m sharing it with you.

“How good is it?”, you ask.

Fair question. This Power Point is freely available for download at my Slideshare account. It has been viewed 3915 times. It has been downloaded 392 times.

The PPT was uploaded 3 years ago. That’s an average of 1300 views per year for 3 years. That’s real good for a Power Point about reading. I recommend you take a look at it, if you haven’t already… Just click on the blue link that says, “Unlocking Reading for all Students”, and the hyperlink will take you to the PPT…

Best regards,

Unlocking Reading for All Students

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Connectivism, Culture, Education, Education Technology, EFL and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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