Our first event of this 2012 worldwide education Olympiad is 4th grade reading. 4th grade reading is somewhat like skeleton in the Winter Olympics. How so? In skeleton, individual athletes zoom down a track on a sled going head first, completely focused, with their faces just inches from the track. Similarly perhaps, in 4th grade, we see that most individual students are focused and zooming through pages with their noses just inches from their books.
The PIRLS test provides data on 4th grade reading achievement among nations throughout the world. Looking at the results on the left, we see the USA comes in ranked 6th. Not bad, but not exactly elite either, and certainly not good enough to make the podium. Even so. In addition to the USA taking the PIRLS test that year, the state of Florida took the same test independently and did very well–so well, in fact, that Florida earned the 2nd highest score in the world, just behind Hong Kong. This is shown on the center list. Montana did not take the PIRLS test, but they did take the NAEP test along with Florida and every other state. NAEP test results from that year show that Montana’s 4th grade reading scores were identical to Florida’s. Thus, if Montana was the USA’s delegation, alone, in this Olympic education event, it is reasonable to conclude that Montana would have finished second place in the world, as shown on the right.
The results of the first event are thus, Hong Kong takes gold, Montana-USA takes silver, and Finland earns the bronze.
As an additional insight, if we extrapolate using more test data, we can see how Swan River School might have fared against the same competition. PIRLS and NAEP data gives us the black, red and blue bars. The green bar is added when we throw in the statewide MontCAS scores for 4th grade reading. If we can assume Montana’s 2012 NAEP score for 4th grade reading is equivalent to the average Montana score on the 2012 MontCAS for 4th grade reading, it reveals that Swan River School scored an impressive 7% higher than Montana. If we then project that same percentage difference back on the PIRLS test results, it would figure to put Swan River even ahead of Hong Kong’s score. Even if it is a stretch to so extrapolate, it is nevertheless reasonable to conclude that Swan River School’s 4th grade reading achievement is excellent, even when judged by the highest test score standards in the world. Just think of it, Swan River School’s 4th graders take the gold in reading!
Our next event will be 4th grade math, which might somewhat resemble the winter Olympics event of speed skating.