There is no correlation between TIMMS and PISA test scores and economic growth

Policy makers in the West often believe that the test scores of pupils and students in TIMMS and PISA says something about future wealth creation.

New research shows that for the rich, industrialized countries there is no correlation between these tests scores on the one hand and innovation and economic growth on the other.

I would argue that these policy makers mix the terms knowledge and competence. Many of the “best” students know the facts needed to score well on TIMMS tests. They have the factual knowledge. Competence on the other hand is the ability to do something in a useful and relevant manner.

Companies need people who have the ability to learn and adapt to a changing environment. Knowing how to score well on tests in school is a different skill altogether.

Moreover, from the discussion of the Nordic Model and Nordic economic success, we see that there are other framework conditions that contribute to innovation and wealth creation, such as a stable socio-economic environment, trust in public institutions and social welfare.

I have written a blog post on this topic for Innovation Norway’s innovation policy blog.

The blog post is in Norwegian, but the New Scientist article I refer to can be found here.

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