Great question! PISA has been the big topic of conversation in our home for the last few days as both my husband and I have been following the results on the news and in the press.
We live in France and are lucky enough to be able to provide for our children. The PISA results for France do worry us a bit, as we see a steady decline (though France is still hovering around the OECD average). We were particularly concerned about the dip in reading performance for boys as well as the increasing disparity between the elite and students in difficulty (which is now at 20% of French students, if I read the results right).
We do live in a major city and so access to quality education is high. Our children frequent other multicultural, educated children for whom education is a given. We understand that we are very lucky and that our children have the support at home to boost their "success" in life. But all of this has made us think.
Are we doing the right thing - when we believe in quality education for all? Rather than favouring schools in good neighbourhoods, should we not be fighting more actively for French education reform: schools in which teachers are supported and trained, schools in which children are supported in learning and thinking (rather than just completing a given curriculum), schools in which music, sports and art are valued and creative collaboration is encouraged, schools in which both teachers and children are valued and respected, schools in which fewer hours are required by day and by night (French students have longer school hours than their parents work and many young schoolchildren have 1-2 hours of homework a night), schools where children are happy to go and feel they belong?
So will we fight for French school reform? Probably yes, in what small ways we can.
Will we continue reading with our children? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Will we move country? Probably, but for many reasons, education being one of them.
Yes it does. As parents we are looking always for the best for our children's education and often believe that private education is the better choice. PISA seems to show that this is not necessarily true.
I think countries could learn a lot from the Shanghai example (http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/oecd/china.html) of “pairing” a strong school with a weaker school, that way eventually all the "bad" schools would become good ones and we would not have to worry so much anymore about which school to be putting our children in.