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A lecture reflecting upon Shanghai's result in PISA 2009 presented by Professor Kong Lingshuai

On the afternoon of November 12th, 2012, Professor Lingshuai Kong presented his reflections on Shanghai's Result in PISA 2009 in our seminar.

Professor Kong is an associate professor of Shanghai Normal University in China, and currently visits Teachers College as a visiting scholar. His academic interest is comparative education.

In the beginning of this lecture, Professor Kong introduced status of Shanghai's education development. The whole lecture focused on reflecting upon the fact that Chinese students from Shanghai far outscored their international peers in all three test fields (reading, mathematics and science) in PISA 2009.  As he mentioned, reactions from the Shanghai city is not single-minded: (1) PISA is not an Olympic Game; (2) Shanghai is only a city, yet most PISA participants are counties; and China is a country with imbalanced development of education.  (3) Shanghai data might have compared China's strength with others' weakness. (4) We need to think about the student's costs for the top results, and whether Shanghai can do something to reduce the costs for Shanghai's students.

Professor Kong analyzed nine reasons for Shanghai's super performance. First he pointed out three reasons related to strong traditional believes and mechanism, which he named traditional factors: (1) high parental expectations; (2) students' belief in the power of effort; (3) China's personnel selection mechanism.  In addition, another six reasons regarding new modern reforms and developments in last 30 years (Modern Factors) were also identified: (1) the openness of Shanghai's education; (2) curriculum and teaching reform in Shanghai; (3) teacher training in Shanghai; (4) improvement of comparatively poor schools in Shanghai; (5) financial resources allocation mechanism in compulsory education in Shanghai; (6) reform of high school enrollment in Shanghai. Overall, "the three traditional and six modern factors not only came together to affect the development of basic education in Shanghai, but also enabled Shanghai to achieve an outstanding performance in the PISA project".

As he concluded, the three cultural factors indicate the influence of traditions on individual motivations, and the six policy-governed modern factors can be attributed to the guiding role that Shanghai government has played in basic education since China's reform and opening up. Then a discussion in the Q&A session was followed.

More information about this lecture can be referred to the PPT in the following link.