PISA data on maths memorisation

Filling the pail

I recently had the following graph Tweeted into my timeline:


It is from the new PISA report, “Ten questions for mathematics teachers… and how PISA can help answer them.” It is an interesting report containing links to the data set.

The first thing that strikes me about the graph is that it says very little. There is not much correlation between the two measures and neither of them is a measure of maths performance. So what are we meant to conclude?

PISA asked students a number of questions and then developed an “index of memorisation”. For some reason, that’s not quite what has been plotted on the y-axis of their own graph (more later) but I decided to plot 2012 Maths PISA scores against this index. This is what I found:


This is not a strong correlation, implying that either the degree of memorisation does not affect maths outcomes (maybe something like…

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