• Rose Kuo

Indicator or myth: global ranking of performance in math, science and reading? 指標?迷思?美國學生閱讀和數理全球排名

What are the global ranking of American students' reading, math and science skills? What does the ranking indicate? How can we improve children's academic performance?

PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment), an international standardized test that is used to examine math, science and reading skills (with focus on math) on 15-years-old students, is administered every three years in industrialized countries by OCED (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

"Since 2000, PISA has shown that education systems can provide both high-quality instruction and equitable learning opportunities for all, and that they can support academic excellence in an environment that also nurtures students’ well-being. PISA shows what countries are doing to support their students and provides an opportunity for countries to learn from each other" (PISA 2018)

The result shows...

According to the outcomes of PISA 2018, the four provinces/municipalities of China – Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (B-S-J-Z), outperformed other countries/cities and got the highest scores in reading, math and science. Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Canada, Finland, Estonia, Korea and Taiwan also got good scores and surpasses many countries.

The United States performed well in reading. However, US students' performance in science and math (especially math) was not very ideal, comparing with countries like Singapore, Japan, Korea, Estonia, New Zealand, Germany, etc.

PISA 2108 Reading scores:

PISA 2018 Math scores:

PISA 2018 Science scores:

Our perspective:

We do not agree that PISA should be viewed as the tool or criterion to measure students' knowledge and success since there are some factors that are not covered nor be taken into consideration in PISA. However, to some degree, the outcomes could be seen as the indicators of how could we improve the education. More importantly, math, science and reading are three major subjects that greatly contribute to children's cognitive development and could possibly help teenagers to get better achievement in college level.

On one hand, there are some flaws in PISA as well. Hence, it would be hard to evaluate a country's education and academic performance solely rely on the test scores. Moreover, the four provinces in eastern China are far from representing China as a whole. On the other hand, it is likely that the test results could be used as a reference through the comparison with other countries. In that way, maybe we can 'learn from other countries' strength' and make our education better!

Reference: PISA 2018- Insights and Interpretations


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