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Old 04.12.2013, 17:57
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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And the ones that are not able to finish their education in minimum time...

But yes, this exactly one of the major problems with this programme.
Agreed.

I also agree that Switzerland is far from the only country that might have statistical problems.

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Unfortunately I could not find these number, as I could not access your first source. I have two questions regarding these numbers:
  1. Are these percentages calculated for students that took the PISA test, for pupils that would be "PISA eligible" or for all students?
  2. In case they apply to all students, how was the data collected?
Sorry about the access issue, I'll try to find another source (I pulled it from the ETH internal internet, so maybe they have access based on being an educational institution?)

The percentages were for those who actually took the PISA test. It was part of the so-called TREE study.

So, if those are all future apprentices, then that would explain the difference in numbers.

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In the linked PDF it is written that these numbers are referring to pupils that left "compulsory education". I assume most of them finished the degree, although it would for many of them not be compulsory to attend any more after their 9th year of schooling. Are those counted in or not? Because there are cut-off dates and pupils who had to repeat classes (e.g. because of recent immigration) and will finish the school with 15, 16 or 17. Additionally there are pupils who will do an apprenticeship after either finishing or dropping out of the Gymnasium where they actually finished their "compulsory eduction" (i.e. 9th year of schooling). So I am not sure if we can compare these numbers to anything related to PISA which has, as you pointed out, a strict age frame.

TL;DR: Are you sure it is the same cohort?
Well, no, they're not. They should represent the same group of kids but they're not technically the same group.

The TREE study was supposed to be all those who took the PISA and who finished their compulsory education (so all 15 year olds who ended their schooling). The official Swiss statistics are for all ages who have completed compulsory education, so I suppose it would be those who dropped out at age 15 as well as those who completed their 9th year, though the document doesn't say. However, if those who finish school at 15 have the same outcomes as those who finish school at other ages, then the proportion of those who go to gymnasium vs. those who go to apprenticeships should be the same (and as I said, if 10th year represents those who are apprentices, then the stats agree).

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I agree, now we only have to define what we think is an "improvement" and how we want to achieve it
Yes, that's the big problem. I'm very curious to see how Switzerland continues to deal with the influx of foreign students, as well as this HarmoS initiative. Here in Zurich, I've been pleasantly surprised with the latest changes (though apparently some people are not). Education reform seems to incite a lot of emotion, no matter where it's discussed...

I also have to say that I'm a novice in this system (my oldest is in KG1), and it's very different than what I grew up with (US system), but I don't have any personal issues with school here with regards to my own kids.
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  #42  
Old 04.12.2013, 18:47
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Agreed.
Sorry about the access issue, I'll try to find another source (I pulled it from the ETH internal internet, so maybe they have access based on being an educational institution?)
This is what I assumed as well.

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So, if those are all future apprentices, then that would explain the difference in numbers.
It's very likely. This is usually an option for pupils who could not find an apprenticeship (of their desired profession).

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Well, no, they're not. They should represent the same group of kids but they're not technically the same group.

The TREE study was supposed to be all those who took the PISA and who finished their compulsory education (so all 15 year olds who ended their schooling). The official Swiss statistics are for all ages who have completed compulsory education, so I suppose it would be those who dropped out at age 15 as well as those who completed their 9th year, though the document doesn't say. However, if those who finish school at 15 have the same outcomes as those who finish school at other ages, then the proportion of those who go to gymnasium vs. those who go to apprenticeships should be the same (and as I said, if 10th year represents those who are apprentices, then the stats agree).
I agree, I am just a little unsure about the bold part.

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Yes, that's the big problem. I'm very curious to see how Switzerland continues to deal with the influx of foreign students, as well as this HarmoS initiative.
I assume the experiences from the influx of foreign students in the 90s will have left quite some impact and we will see if the right conclusions were made.

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Here in Zurich, I've been pleasantly surprised with the latest changes (though apparently some people are not). Education reform seems to incite a lot of emotion, no matter where it's discussed...
It aims pretty much at the core of the state, the family and ideology. Is there a better battlefield? Except taxes of course

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I also have to say that I'm a novice in this system (my oldest is in KG1), and it's very different than what I grew up with (US system), but I don't have any personal issues with school here with regards to my own kids.
Not yet

I am convinced that some further harmonisation, funding and reformation is required. I.e. the canton-to-canton differences that are still in place are pure madness. But I am not that sure that my compatriots see it the same way.

BTW: I don't know if you have seen it, but there was an article on Tagi today you might be interested in. It's essentially about the plans of the cantons Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Solothurn and Aargau to make tests with all pupils starting 2016. Many are now afraid that the results of these tests could be used to make rankings of all schools and to put the schools with bad results under pressure.
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Old 04.12.2013, 19:07
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

Even with the bias or statistical errors I think the Swiss system is still at least in the 10-20 worldwide. I know pretty well the French system and the biggest strength of the swiss system is that it does not produce unemployed youth like in France. There is a good fit between what the market needs and what the education system produces.
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Old 05.12.2013, 13:06
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

I think the main value of PISA lies in comparing the education quality of countries with similar education systems, i.e. Germany, Switzerland, Austria...

Shanghai may have the highest score worldwide but there is a huge selection bias and China refuses the publication of its national scores.. the same goes to other countries that try to hard to score highly in these tests.
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Old 11.12.2013, 12:24
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)


GOT A SWISS-EDUCATEDUNIVERSITY-HOPEFUL STUDENT AT HOME? PLEASE READ THROUGH, ACTION NEEDED:Given that Switzerland accords a "Maturité" to a pathetic20% of students (Government's own statistics) as compared to 60% in the rest ofEurope and over 80% in Canada (which has systematically done better thanSwitzerland in the past) were the candidates for PISA were hand-picked from the20% of "high school" students? It would seem likely but wouldinevitably skewer these results.

Contrary to popular belief,the "Maturité" is neither admired (too many unnecessary subjects) noreven particularly recognised overseas, as so many unfortunate Swiss studentshave found out. Those who make it into a Swiss university can go on an"Erasmus" exchange trip (foreign universities don't care as longas they aren't giving out the diploma), but many good students are refused directentry. One 4.8 level student in the Geneva area was refused admittance tono fewer than five mid-level UK universities last year.

Equally appalling is thetreatment the students get at the university level. Note that MIT(top on international lists of universities for Science and Tech) hasworked to reduce 1st year failure rates to 4%, whereas EPFL (not in top 20 oninternational lists) announces with pride the 70% failure rate on their website. Andwith only 20% of the population able to apply, EPFL cannot claim (as they tryto do) that the candidates are not up to score.

The problem for studentswho give up on CH and try to head overseas is in the marking, andHERE IS WHERE ACTION IS NEEDED. The international scoring equivalencypanel expects the top 10% of students to receive the top mark, which inSwitzerland is 6/6. As any parent can attest, Switzerland has never givena 6 to the top 10% of students, estimates guess it goes to the top 2% atvery most. A "5" is a very honourable score here. The comparisonis simple: 85% of students in the US get a high school diploma, and of these50% have a score of B or above (second best score after A). That's 42% ofB grade US students in any given year, which makes a "B" a veryaverage mark. In Switzerland, even if 20% (undocumented guess) ofstudents get a "5" or above, 20% of "5" score students outof the mere 20% of students in high school means that 4% of Swiss students havea 5. So 4% of Swiss students are competing with 45% of US students – and thereforeare evaluated as very average, which has devastating results for limited accessprograms (sciences in particular). To top it off, there is no documentationof any kind that the Swiss student can provide to overseas universities toprove this situation. They can prove that only 20% of students receive aMaturité, but not the punitive marking system.

SUPPORT IS NEEDED. Amember of the Swiss Embassy in New York has agreed to send a request to Berneto have an explanatory document published, but, as is the way withbureaucrats, no one is in any hurry and this could easily take years - unlessthere is some public support. Anybody listening ?
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Old 11.12.2013, 12:45
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

Note to Swiss In Training, as a Canadian Swiss who has been here 25 years, two university-aged kids, my bitter experience is that putting them in CH public education is a huge risk. It's ok at the beginning as they will get to know the other kids their own age in your area, and as Swiss are far less mobile than North Americans, they are likely to end up friends for life. However, things get critical as you reach the age of 10. In the (rare) event that your child perfectly fits the Swiss mold, things are ok. Do be aware that at this ridiculously young age children are streamed, and frequently bullied into "apprenticeships" in which they have, at best, a fleeting interest. And the apprenticeships, often started at age 15-16, are NOT recognised overseas. "Compulsory Education" ends at 16 (only Grade 9) so your children won't even necessarily have access to High School, never mind university - at the high school (Maturité) success rate is only 20%. Even the Maturité has only grudging acceptance overseas - 13 obligatory subjects prevent students from concentrating on the ones they want to focus on. So unless things are going unexpectly well (6's all round), FLEE, it will cost a bomb but go for the International Baccalareat. An IB won't stop your child becoming a plumber if he or she wants to, but is internationally well received and will allow access to US or other universities (note that the Dutch are offering English-language degrees at cut-rate prices). In other words, the student gets some CHOICE, not to mention a far more positive, encouraging school atmosphere. I wish I had known. Mine are studying in Canada and Scotland but it has been a huge and entirely unnecessary battle.
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  #47  
Old 11.12.2013, 14:05
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Note to Swiss In Training, as a Canadian Swiss who has been here 25 years, two university-aged kids, my bitter experience is that putting them in CH public education is a huge risk. It's ok at the beginning as they will get to know the other kids their own age in your area, and as Swiss are far less mobile than North Americans, they are likely to end up friends for life. However, things get critical as you reach the age of 10. In the (rare) event that your child perfectly fits the Swiss mold, things are ok. Do be aware that at this ridiculously young age children are streamed, and frequently bullied into "apprenticeships" in which they have, at best, a fleeting interest. And the apprenticeships, often started at age 15-16, are NOT recognised overseas. "Compulsory Education" ends at 16 (only Grade 9) so your children won't even necessarily have access to High School, never mind university - at the high school (Maturité) success rate is only 20%. Even the Maturité has only grudging acceptance overseas - 13 obligatory subjects prevent students from concentrating on the ones they want to focus on. So unless things are going unexpectly well (6's all round), FLEE, it will cost a bomb but go for the International Baccalareat. An IB won't stop your child becoming a plumber if he or she wants to, but is internationally well received and will allow access to US or other universities (note that the Dutch are offering English-language degrees at cut-rate prices). In other words, the student gets some CHOICE, not to mention a far more positive, encouraging school atmosphere. I wish I had known. Mine are studying in Canada and Scotland but it has been a huge and entirely unnecessary battle.
Thanks for your concern, CriticalEye. My oldest is in Kindergarten at the moment, so we are trying the Swiss system. However, I fully plan to move back to the US before we are at the streaming stage. We've seen that the system is difficult for many of our friends (and we all met at the ETH as nerdy parent-scientists, so we're fairly invested in our kids' educations).

I certainly am not under the impression that a system that streams early is in any way the best or is fair, and the level of inequality that streaming enforces is a major criticism of the Swiss school system by the OECD. Of course we'll be doing what's best for our kids, and I do think that the US system will serve them better.
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Old 11.12.2013, 14:12
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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(note that the Dutch are offering English-language degrees at cut-rate prices).
those Dutch sure don't lack entrepreneurial spirit. I imagine their universities will be very popular with UK students in particular.
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Old 11.12.2013, 14:39
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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85% of students in the US get a high school diploma
Which is useful for what, exactly?

The US system is so dumbed down, I'm amazed that it's not 100%, and all with 4.0 GPA.

Tom
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Old 11.12.2013, 14:42
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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GOT A SWISS-EDUCATEDUNIVERSITY-HOPEFUL STUDENT AT HOME? PLEASE READ THROUGH, ACTION NEEDED:Given that Switzerland accords a "Maturité" to a pathetic20% of students (Government's own statistics) as compared to 60% in the rest ofEurope and over 80% in Canada (which has systematically done better thanSwitzerland in the past) were the candidates for PISA were hand-picked from the20% of "high school" students? It would seem likely but wouldinevitably skewer these results.

Contrary to popular belief,the "Maturité" is neither admired (too many unnecessary subjects) noreven particularly recognised overseas, as so many unfortunate Swiss studentshave found out. Those who make it into a Swiss university can go on an"Erasmus" exchange trip (foreign universities don't care as longas they aren't giving out the diploma), but many good students are refused directentry. One 4.8 level student in the Geneva area was refused admittance tono fewer than five mid-level UK universities last year.

Equally appalling is thetreatment the students get at the university level. Note that MIT(top on international lists of universities for Science and Tech) hasworked to reduce 1st year failure rates to 4%, whereas EPFL (not in top 20 oninternational lists) announces with pride the 70% failure rate on their website. Andwith only 20% of the population able to apply, EPFL cannot claim (as they tryto do) that the candidates are not up to score.

The problem for studentswho give up on CH and try to head overseas is in the marking, andHERE IS WHERE ACTION IS NEEDED. The international scoring equivalencypanel expects the top 10% of students to receive the top mark, which inSwitzerland is 6/6. As any parent can attest, Switzerland has never givena 6 to the top 10% of students, estimates guess it goes to the top 2% atvery most. A "5" is a very honourable score here. The comparisonis simple: 85% of students in the US get a high school diploma, and of these50% have a score of B or above (second best score after A). That's 42% ofB grade US students in any given year, which makes a "B" a veryaverage mark. In Switzerland, even if 20% (undocumented guess) ofstudents get a "5" or above, 20% of "5" score students outof the mere 20% of students in high school means that 4% of Swiss students havea 5. So 4% of Swiss students are competing with 45% of US students – and thereforeare evaluated as very average, which has devastating results for limited accessprograms (sciences in particular). To top it off, there is no documentationof any kind that the Swiss student can provide to overseas universities toprove this situation. They can prove that only 20% of students receive aMaturité, but not the punitive marking system.

SUPPORT IS NEEDED. Amember of the Swiss Embassy in New York has agreed to send a request to Berneto have an explanatory document published, but, as is the way withbureaucrats, no one is in any hurry and this could easily take years - unlessthere is some public support. Anybody listening ?
It's not the problem of Switzerland if other country deside to make the expectations of their schooling system so low, that they basically become meaningless. What's the point of giving top grades to 20% of the students?

If anything then getting the Matura has become too easy. All that scaremongering about the Swiss schooling system being to difficult is simply not true. Every moderately bright student will get trough the Gymnasium without doing too much work. The problem is that many of these students expect that they can continue in the same way once they are in university, which of course leads them to fail. Thus the high first year failing rate.

Comparing to US universities is not fair, because they select a limited number of students. Of course the university is interested that these selected students then finish their education.

In the continental European system (at least France, Germany, Switzerland,
Austria) every student who passed the Matura (Abitur, Bac, etc.) has the right to study at every university. Of course many of these students are simply not good enough to do the kind of education they chose. Consequently they drop out in their first year of university.

The problem is that the Bolognia reform sugests, that the two systems are compareble, but actually they aren't. In the US many things that are part of a Bachelor's degree (i.e. general education) is in continental Europe traditionally part of the Gymnasium (remember, that originally the Gymnasium had two additional years). In recent years the system was messed up, because they tried to make it more anglo-saxon.
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Old 11.12.2013, 14:59
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Comparing to US universities is not fair, because they select a limited number of students. Of course the university is interested that these selected students then finish their education.
It's true that US universities select a limited number of students. However, the Swiss students are selected before hand as well. Most US universities accept well over 20% of their applicants, and it's only the very top tier that accept less than 10%.

In addition, the idea that students are disposable is pervasive here, both among the students themselves (who find little reason to work together) and among the professors (who find little reason to invest in students who may disappear in the near future). I personally find this disheartening, as it doesn't do much for the educational atmosphere. These kids have already been selected, but still there's no incentive to engage them.
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Old 11.12.2013, 15:09
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Which is useful for what, exactly?

The US system is so dumbed down, I'm amazed that it's not 100%, and all with 4.0 GPA.

Tom
In theory, a system that does not stream students ensures that the selection process for university is less prone to influences outside of the student's own achievements. But you knew that, you ex-American.
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Old 11.12.2013, 20:40
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

Laertes, it is ENTIRELY the problem of Switzerland if they have such an incomprehensible system that Swiss students are disadvantaged on the international scene. It is up to the Swiss to simply announce that they employ a different percentage scale to everybody else, it's not that difficult. Articles have already pointed out that top jobs in Switzerland are almost universally held by well-educated foreigners. If the Swiss universities fail to comprehend they are paid to educate, then at least do not block the road to Learning elsewhere. Indians and Chinese are turning out engineers and scientists by the thousands. They will be completing internationally with the Swiss, and Switzerland persists in pushing their kids into trades. Spot the problem.
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Old 11.12.2013, 21:03
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

Of course many of these students are simply not good enough to do the kind of education they chose. Consequently they drop out in their first year of university.

QUOTE]

This is just repeating the silly nonsense put about by Swiss universities to explain away their appalling practices. The proof to the contrary can be seen in those Swiss students who do finally manage to get into overseas universities (sometimes by having to do overseas classes to achieve some kind of recognisable marks), and who manage to get through just fine - no dropout rate there.

As to the caustic remarks about Anglo-Saxon education, I would point out that 1) the Canadians (anglo saxon) have regularly scored very highly on these tests (often better than the Swiss and note they test from the whole population, not just the winnowed-down 20% allowed into Swiss high school), and 2) at the university level, US and English universities often share top ranking spots. Swiss universities, despite their harsh attitude, come nowhere near. So all that harshness is for no particular result.

The point is, there is no element of CHOICE here. There is the highest suicide level among young people here which is a fact which has been bizarrely ignored.

Current trend is to complacency (our economy is surviving, everybody else is sinking, so Swiss are doing it right). But actually the Canadian and Australian economies are doing just fine, without making life hell on earth for students, and without incurring high suicide rates.
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Old 11.12.2013, 21:32
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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In theory, a system that does not stream students ensures that the selection process for university is less prone to influences outside of the student's own achievements. But you knew that, you ex-American.
Alas, things have gone downhill big-time since I was in school, this from my sister who is a teacher, and a mother who is a retired teacher.

Allowing idiots to go to university does NOT improve the quality of the graduates.

Tom
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Old 11.12.2013, 22:15
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Of course many of these students are simply not good enough to do the kind of education they chose. Consequently they drop out in their first year of university.

QUOTE]

This is just repeating the silly nonsense put about by Swiss universities to explain away their appalling practices. The proof to the contrary can be seen in those Swiss students who do finally manage to get into overseas universities (sometimes by having to do overseas classes to achieve some kind of recognisable marks), and who manage to get through just fine - no dropout rate there.
Your assumption that the quality of the Swiss school system can be measured by the ability of students to go to foreign universities is ridiculous. How is it the other way around and what does that say about anything? This is a measure for bureaucracy, not for quality of school systems.

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The point is, there is no element of CHOICE here. There is the highest suicide level among young people here which is a fact which has been bizarrely ignored.

Current trend is to complacency (our economy is surviving, everybody else is sinking, so Swiss are doing it right). But actually the Canadian and Australian economies are doing just fine, without making life hell on earth for students, and without incurring high suicide rates.

Canada 10.8, Australia 8.9, Switzerland 8.4 suicides per 100'000 in the range of 15-19 year old.


The Swiss system has advantages and disadvantages. Nobody is denying that, but what you are doing here is just uninformed trolling. A system is not good or bad per se, but it depends on the perspective (state, tax payer, bright students, daft students, rich students, poor students, economy etc.). If your children study to be a plumber in Canada or Scotland, that's good for you, but it has nothing to do with the quality of the Swiss school system.
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  #57  
Old 11.12.2013, 22:24
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Alas, things have gone downhill big-time since I was in school, this from my sister who is a teacher, and a mother who is a retired teacher.

Allowing idiots to go to university does NOT improve the quality of the graduates.

Tom
Every generation seems to have this issue with education (the kids aren't as smart as they used to be, aren't as disciplined as they used to be, etc.). Still, as is clear from this thread, objectively measuring an educational system is hardly straightforward, so forgive me if I'm not convinced by your lovely relatives' opinions.

Also, you quite badly misconstrued what I wrote (or didn't understand it. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though).
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  #58  
Old 12.12.2013, 00:54
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Laertes, it is ENTIRELY the problem of Switzerland if they have such an incomprehensible system that Swiss students are disadvantaged on the international scene. It is up to the Swiss to simply announce that they employ a different percentage scale to everybody else, it's not that difficult. Articles have already pointed out that top jobs in Switzerland are almost universally held by well-educated foreigners. If the Swiss universities fail to comprehend they are paid to educate, then at least do not block the road to Learning elsewhere. Indians and Chinese are turning out engineers and scientists by the thousands. They will be completing internationally with the Swiss, and Switzerland persists in pushing their kids into trades. Spot the problem.
Please tell me how the Swiss dual education system can be that wrong, if Switzerland has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates of the western world? Please note that many of the students that are "forced" into trades actually choose to do so. An apprenticeship isn't a one way street (even if many members of EF seem to think so). I know many students who would have qualified to go to the Gymnasium, but choose to do a apprenticeship combined with Berufsmatura, because they think that this offers them a better career perspective. In many industrial roles an engineer that has 4 years of experience as a mechanic (or other thechnical profession) is actually preferable to an engineer graduating from ETH without professional experience.

Despite what is often told in this forum, the Swiss education system is actually one of the most flexible in the world. No matter what path you have chosen, there always is (provided that you have the necessary talent) a way to change your direction. After an apprenticeship you can (with the Berufsmatura) do a bachelor's degree at a Fachhochshule. With that youncan apply for a Master at an university. Some Fachhochschulen even offer Master's degrees and there is some talk about letting them run their own PhD programs.
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  #59  
Old 12.12.2013, 05:19
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

Criticaleye is just trolling, not a single fact he mentioned stands up to scrutiny. All Anglo-Saxon countries, including Canada, fare worse than Switzerland in PISA or similar tests.
Low youth unemployment, we also have some of the best ranked continental European universities (the rankings are anyway heavily biased towards English speaking universities - if you'd measure universities solely on their output: research, spin-offs, Nobel prices, graduate salaries some Swiss universities would rank at the very top), our graduation rate is the same or higher than elsewhere in the OECD (check it if you don't believe it... ) the International Baccalaureat (IB) was fashioned after the Swiss Bac (or Maturité), and is a Swiss institution... There is a huge number of Swiss exchange or Postgrad students abroad and they usually do very well indeed. And all the rest about suicides, grades etc is nonsense too..

In short: no.
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Old 12.12.2013, 10:36
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Re: Switzerland in top 10 in 2012 PISA survey (mathematics)

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Criticaleye is just trolling, not a single fact he mentioned stands up to scrutiny. All Anglo-Saxon countries, including Canada, fare worse than Switzerland in PISA or similar tests.
Low youth unemployment, we also have some of the best ranked continental European universities (the rankings are anyway heavily biased towards English speaking universities - if you'd measure universities solely on their output: research, spin-offs, Nobel prices, graduate salaries some Swiss universities would rank at the very top), our graduation rate is the same or higher than elsewhere in the OECD (check it if you don't believe it... ) the International Baccalaureat (IB) was fashioned after the Swiss Bac (or Maturité), and is a Swiss institution... There is a huge number of Swiss exchange or Postgrad students abroad and they usually do very well indeed. And all the rest about suicides, grades etc is nonsense too..

In short: no.
Technically, Switzerland only did better than Canada on Math, not on reading comprehension or science. So, Canada is hardly doing badly (and I'm not Canadian, eh?)

As for the rankings, I'm not sure how the bias in those measurements is toward English speaking countries-the metrics used are teaching environment, research output, industry income, and international outlook. None of these sound skewed towards "speaks English" to me.

As for the university system, if you choose the "right" metric, yes, the Swiss universities do better. However, I'm not sure what relevance graduate salary has to the overall reputation of a university (and I say this as a formerly underpaid PhD student). Also, I'm not sure how a school's ability to hire Nobel prize winners matters much either, as most people will tell you that once they've won the prize, their periods of innovation are largely over.

Research output looks wouldn't put the ETH at the top of the list, and it doesn't score overly high in anything except for "international outlook," which reflects the reality here-the majority of the research leader positions are held by foreigners.

I do think that the Swiss system has it's strengths, but one problem with the emphasis on conformity is that it doesn't produce students who are passionate, engaged and ambitious. My personal suspicion is that this is due to the Swiss ideal of "well-rounded" students-which would marginalize those who are spectacular at science but poor at languages or excellent in their subjects but who have poor social skills (and these combinations are far more common than someone who excels in all academic and social situations, obviously). This seems pretty well reflected at the ETH, at least, where the talent is largely imported, starting with PhD students. However, overall, the level of student "happiness" as measured by employment, at least, is clearly higher.

On the other end of the spectrum, the US system produces many students who overestimate their abilities, but also seems able to encourage the truly gifted, especially finding places for the "lopsided" students. It's one reason why the US system incites so much emotion-the ability to foster talent seems built in, but also invites blame toward those students who don't excel.

I'm not arguing that either is better, rather that both systems have something to learn from each other. Certainly a system that produces so many ill-prepared students needs to become more pragmatic. However, a system that is roundly criticized for selecting students based on factors other than ability, as well as being seen as inflexible (by both unbiased studies as well as emotional reactions) also has some adaptation to do.
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