This year I am, just like last year, going to participate at PISA.
PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment, tests the students of different countries in order to compare them against each other.
In 2000, Germany failed miserably (We were the third worst IIRC, Finland was place 1). Various reasons were found, and different new ideas tested. Currently, they are trying do introduce full time schools, which I'm strongly against, but thats another issue.
In 2003, I too participated at the tests. Honestly, they were ridiculous. First, the guy came in and read the instructions off a sheet of paper, "so all students have the same conditions".
Then, we were supposed to do the tests. Every student got a "PISA-pen", bought only for that purpose. We were allowed to keep them at the end.
Back to the tests: Mostly it was maths, which is one of my strengths anyway. There were some questions on text understanding too. I found the questions very easy for the greatest part, and I assume you could do them do.
During the test, we were given about four books of tests with about 70 pages each full of questions.
The last book finally contained the most funny questions, it was about your environment: Do you have a dishwasher at home? A washing machine? Do you use drugs? How long do you watch television per day? Do your parents help you with your homework? Do you think they are good in maths? How about geography?
The best question however was: How often do you watch porn per week? Seriously, after going through all those questions, many students were bored and answered them wrongly just for fun. When they asked "Do you know what a anti-virus-program is?", I answered "No, I run GNU/Linux."
Oh, yeah: The tests were done in May 2003 and they still have—that was a year ago!—no specific results (to us). Go figure.
I'm really looking forward to the tests this year. :-)
NP: Eddie Vedder—The Times They Are a-Changing