Test Scores Do NOT Reflect Creativity

Source: EdWeek, Jul 2012

test scores are not measures of entrepreneurship or creativity. Not even scores on the intensely watched and universally worshiped Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, are good indicators of a nation’s capacity for entrepreneurship and creativity.

… countries that score high on PISA do not have levels of entrepreneurship that match their stellar scores. More importantly, it seems that countries with higher PISA scores have fewer people confident in their entrepreneurial capabilities. Out of the innovation-driven economies, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are among the best PISA performers, but their scores on the measure of perceived capabilities or confidence in one’s ability to start a new business are the lowest.

The correlation coefficients between scores on the 2009 PISA in math, reading, and science and 2011 GEM in “perceived entrepreneurial capability” in the 23 developed countries are all statistically significant. (By the way, these countries have also traditionally dominated the top spots on the other influential international test, the Trends in International Math and Science Study, or TIMSS.) China’s Shanghai took the No. 1 rank in all three areas of the 2009 PISARequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, but the scores do not have any bearing on China’s creativity capacity.

what brings great test scores may hamper entrepreneurial qualities. Standardized testing and a focus on rote memorization, for example, are perhaps the biggest enemies of entrepreneurial capability.

Standardized testing rewards the ability to find the “correct answer” and thus discourages creativity, which is about asking questions and challenging the status quo. A narrow and uniform curriculum deprives children of opportunities to explore and experiment with their interest and passion, which is the foundation of entrepreneurship.

Constantly testing children and telling them they are not good enough depletes their confidence, which is the fuel of innovation. So, by any account, what policymakers have put in place in American schools is precisely what is needed to cancel out their desire for creative and entrepreneurial talents.



  1. The Japanese culturally low tolerance for individuality is reflected in one of their axioms: “If you see a nail sticking out, then hammer it down.”. This desire to demand conformity through authoritarian control is central to our fight with centralized government control of our educational institutions. If all they (our government masters) care about is your PISA score, then allowing creativity (non-conformity) is counter intuitive. America was established by the disenfranchised masses from around the world who sought individual freedoms they could not possess in their own native lands. This Western rugged individualism is what built America. Without that personal creative spark to challenge everything, our Nation is doomed to become just another cog in the New World Order.

    • Hi Ralph:

      What I find surprising is that South Korea, with its strict Confucian-based conformist mindset that is akin to the Japanese conformist mindset, is able to out-innovate even Apple within the past few years. Food for thought …


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