The fourth event of the 2012 worldwide education Olympiad has us shift our focus from 4th grade to 8th grade.  Let’s begin by looking at 8th grade reading.  If 4th grade reading was like skeleton, we’ll liken 8th grade reading to a similar event, the bobsled.  The Bobsled race is a team event and is the fastest of the sledding events.  By 8th grade, students are zooming through text at an even faster rate than in 4th grade.  They are more often working together as they navigate through increasingly more difficult text and at higher rates of fluency.


Standardized test score data for 8th grade reading for top performing nations


The 2011 PISA test results show on the left a disappointing 24th place finish for the USA in reading among students who are about one year removed from 8th grade.  The center list includes individual states performance on the PISA, and of the few that participates, we note Massachusetts placed 6th in the world.  Massachusetts also took the 8th grade reading NAEP test, as did Montana.  The results of that NAEP test indicate no significant difference in the test scores of Massachusetts and Montana.  Thus, if Montana were the lone state to represent the USA in this competition, it is reasonable to conclude that our state would have placed 6th in the world, as shown on the right  That’s not good enough to make the podium, but it’s a far cry better than 24th in the world.

Your medal winners for 8th grade reading are Shanghai-China taking gold, Hong Kong the silver, and Singapore with bronze.


Bar graph showing extrapolated standardized test data for comparisons in 8th grade reading


MontCAS test results from that same year allow for a glimpse of how Swan River School might fare were they the only representative in the competition.  Here we see the green bar showing that our Warriors again outpaced Montana by 2%.  It wouldn’t be enough to catch Shanghai-China, nor would it probably be enough to medal.  However, as added insight, in more recent years, our 8th graders have performed exceptionally well on standardized reading tests, typically finishing about 10% higher than the average Montana score.  That huge margin certainly would be enough to medal and surpass Shanghai-China for gold.

The next event up will be 8th grade math, which something like alpine skiing.