PISA Math Scores (2012) and Social Integration of Children with Separated Parents

PISA Math Scores and Social Integration of Children with Separated/Divorced Parents

December 4, 2014                                                                      

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has provided its report of their ongoing monitoring of student performance based upon their most recent testing (2012).

PISA testing garners much international respect because its process is to measure real world performance with proven metrics.

·        PISA is unique because it develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society.

·        Math proficiency is a strong predictor of positive outcomes for young adults. It influences their ability to participate in post-secondary education and their expected future earnings.

The report has drawn a bevy of media interest in Canadian and United States media. The media and government response is focusing on the issue of curriculum development.

Another important part of the puzzle for math scores and improved adult outcomes for at-risk children is their social integration. All of the top 10 countries in the PISA scoring have very different social responses to divorce. Some differences, are contrary to North American values of individual and civil rights. At the same time, these countries provide much more community and extended family involvement in the protection of children during and after divorce. The North American, family centric model for divorce causes ongoing stress on children that lower math scores. See for example (Hyun Sik Kim & Richard E. Lucas, Ph.D., “Consequences of Parental Divorce for Child Development” June 2011 American Sociological Review).

North American schools rarely accommodate children with separated parents. Among other things, school policies create further conflict between a child’s home by forcing parents to fight over school bus service and aftercare. Despite easy and inexpensive technological solutions, schools have very poor communications with both child’s homes and children get caught in the middle.

Twenty five percent of children have separated parents by the age of thirteen, and as much as fifty percent by the age of 18. The PISA tests fifteen year-olds. The social impact of the stress of the divorce process on this at-risk group cannot be ignored in understanding the test results. Do the math…

The Fair Parenting Project takes a community approach to parenting plans to integrate children with community services and activities. (http://FairParenting.com).