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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Malaysia, US, UK and Australia lag in global education rankings as China and Asian countries rise to the top

 Malaysia students score below global average

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian students have scored below the global average under the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2012.

According to the results released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Malaysia scored 421 in Mathematics, 398 in Reading and 420 in Science respectively.

The results achieved in the latest survey showed Malaysia was below the global average score of 494 in Mathematics, 496 in Reading and 501 in Science.

Based on the mean score for 2012, Malaysia is still placed in the bottom third, ranking 52 out of 65 countries, and 55 out of 74 countries in the 2009 survey.

In 2009, Malaysia scored 404 in Mathematics, 414 in Reading and 422 in Science.

Pisa is administered by the OECD every three years on 15-year-olds in both OECD and non-OECD countries and offers students questions in the main language of instruction in their respective countries. Each round focuses on one area of either Reading, Mathematics or Science.

The assessments have been conducted since 2000, with Malaysia taking part for the first time in 2009.

Currently, Malaysian students are at the bottom one-third among more than 70 countries in international assessments like Timms (Trends in International Mathe­mathics and Science Studies) and Pisa. The Malaysia Education Blueprint has set the goal for Malaysia to be in the top third of countries participating in Pisa and Timms by 2025.

 Contributed by Kkang Soon Chen The Star/Asia News Network

US students lag in global education rankings as Asian countries rise to the top

Students in the United States made scant headway on recent global achievement exams and slipped deeper in the international rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad, according to test results released Tuesday.

American teens scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science and reading, compared against dozens of other countries that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which was administered last fall.

Vietnam, which had its students take part in the exam for the first time, had a higher average score in math and science than the United States. Students in Shanghai — China's largest city with upwards of 20 million people — ranked best in the world, according to the test results. Students in East Asian countries and provinces came out on top, nabbing seven of the top 10 places across all three subjects.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan characterized the flat scores as a "picture of educational stagnation."

"We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators," Duncan said.

Roughly half a million students in 65 nations and educational systems representing 80 percent of the global economy took part in the 2012 edition of PISA, which is coordinated by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.

The numbers are even more sobering when compared among only the 34 OECD countries. The United States ranked 26th in math — trailing nations such as the Slovakia, Portugal and Russia. What’s more, American high school students dropped to 21st in science (from 17th in 2009) and slipped to 17th in reading (from 14th in 2009), according to the results.

“These numbers are very discouraging,” Eric A. Hanushek, an expert on educational policy and a Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, told NBC News. “They say that we have to work more seriously at trying to raise the performance that leads to these scores.”

The exam, which has been administered every three years to 15-year-olds, is designed to gauge how students use the material they have learned inside and outside the classroom to solve problems.

U.S. scores on the PISA have stayed relatively flat since testing began in 2000. And meanwhile, students in countries like Ireland and Poland have demonstrated marked improvement — even surpassing U.S. students, according to the results.

"It's hard to get excited about standing still while others around you are improving, so I don't want to be too positive," Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told the Associated Press.

Duncan said the results were at "odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive work force in the world."

The scores are likely to reopen a long-simmering political debate about the state of education in America as economically ascendant nations like China eclipse U.S. students' performance.

American students historically have ranked low on international assessments, owing to a range of social and economic factors — from skyrocketing rates of child poverty to sheer population diversity. Nearly 6,100 American students participated in this round of testing.

"Socio-economic background has a significant impact on student performance in the United States, with some 15% of the variation in student performance explained by this, similar to the OECD average," according to a PISA summary of U.S. performance. "Although this impact has weakened over time, disadvantaged students show less engagement, drive, motivation and self-beliefs."

Shanghai students also dominated the PISA exam in 2009, according to the AP.

Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the wire service that the educational system in that city is not equitable — and the students tested are progeny of the elite because they are the only ones permitted to attend municipal schools due to restrictions that, among other things, prohibit many migrant children.

"The Shanghai scores frankly to me are difficult to interpret," Loveless told the wire service. "They are almost meaningless."

Buckley told the AP that U.S. officials have not encountered any evidence of a "biased sample" of students administered the exam in Shanghai. He said if the whole country was included, it is unclear what the results would show.

Hanushek told NBC News that the performance of Asian teens says a great deal about the modern mindset of the Far East.

“These East Asian countries are hungry,” Hanushek said. “They have the view that improving their lives and improving their future depends on education.”

And the U.S., he added, has grown too accustomed to leading the world in knowledge that it may have lost its edge.

“We have the strongest economy in the world. But everybody is too complacent,” Hanushek said.
The test is premised on a 1,000-point scale. Here's a sampling of the leading findings:

— In math, the U.S. average score was 481. Average scores ranged from 368 in Peru to 613 in Shanghai. The global average was 494.

— In science, the U.S. average score was 497. Average scores ranged from 373 in Peru to 580 in Shanghai. The global average was 501.

— In reading, the U.S. average score was 498. Average scores ranged from 384 in Peru to 570 in Shanghai. The global average was 496.

Students from all states were tested. For the first time, three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida — elected to boost participation in PISA to get more state-specific data.

Average scores from Massachusetts rose above the international average in all three subject areas.

Connecticut students scored on average near the global average in math and higher than the global average in science and reading. Florida students on average scored below the global average in math and science and near the global average in reading, according to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PISA Results Show UK Students Lagging Behind Rest Of The World
uk students lag behind rest of world pisa
 - The Huffington Post UK/PA

UK teenagers and students are lagging far behind their peers across the world as the country fails to improve its performance in reading, maths and science, a major international report reveals.

Young adults in Singapore, Estonia and Slovenia are storming ahead, despite the UK spending more than average on education. There has been "no change" in the country's abilities in the basics, according to the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study 2012.

The UK was in 26th place for maths, 23rd for reading and 21st for science, it found.

More than half a million 15-year-olds from 65 countries took part in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) study last year, which assesses how students could use their knowledge and skills in real life, rather than just repeating facts and figures.

The findings show that the UK's average score for maths was 494 and in reading it was 499, broadly the same as the OECD averages for the subjects and putting the country on a par with nations such as the Czech Republic, France,and Norway.

In science, the UK's teenagers scored 514 points, above the OECD average and similar to results in Australia, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Slovenia.

But it also leaves the UK lagging far behind leading nations including Shanghai in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan in each of the areas tested.

The OECD concluded that across all three subjects the UK's average performance in maths has remained unchanged since the PISA tests in 2006 and 2009.

Andreas Schleicher, special adviser to the OECD's secretary-general, said: "The relative standing and the absolute standing of the UK is really unchanged."

He added: "In essence you can say that the UK stands where it stood in 2009."

The results come despite major investment in education in the UK.

The study found that the UK spends more per head on education than the average across OECD countries, at around £59,889 per student between the ages of six and 15. The OECD average is £50,951.

It says that expenditure per student can explain about 30% of the difference in average maths results between countries, but that moderate or high spending per pupil does not automatically equate to particularly high or low performance in the subject.

The report shows that around one in eight (12%) of UK teenagers are considered "top performers" in maths scoring the highest results, this is a similar proportion to the OECD average. Around nine percent were top performers in reading, while 11% fell into this category in science.

And more than a fifth (22%) were "low performers", compared to the OECD average of 23%, meaning that at best they can solve simple maths problems. Around 15% were low performers in reading, along with 15% in science.

The results also showed that students from an immigrant background in the UK perform as well in maths as other students, whereas in many other OECD countries they score significantly lower.

It adds that UK students are generally positive about school, but like those in many other countries they are less positive about learning maths.

Mr Schleicher said that the latest PISA results could not be used to judge the Coalition Government's education reforms, saying "you couldn't possibly see anything of what's been done in the last couple of years."

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "These poor results show the last government failed to secure the improvements in school standards our young people desperately need.

"Labour poured billions of pounds into schools and ratcheted up exam grades - yet our education system stagnated and we fell behind other nations."

He added that the performance "underlines the urgent need for our reforms".

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "The PISA report is a big wake-up call. Eastern dominance centres on the importance that these high performing education systems place on the quality and status of the teaching profession as the central lever for driving up standards.

"This report exposes the failings of this Government's schools policy: a policy that has sent unqualified teachers into the classroom and prevented effective collaboration between schools."

Australian students slipping behind in maths, reading: OECD report

Video: Christopher Pyne says the results are a 'serious wake-up call' (ABC News)
Related Story: Labor refuses to back own move to cut university funding by $2.3b
Related Story: Pyne hails 'national model' after backflip on Gonski funding
Related Story: Abbott to honour Gonski school funding deals

A new report comparing Australian high school students with 65 other countries shows the nation is slipping further behind in maths and reading skills.

The 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures the mathematics, reading and science skills of half a million 15-year-olds from around the world.

It found Australian teens placed equal 17th in maths, equal 10th in reading and equal 8th in science.

Asian countries like China, Singapore, Korea and Japan are pulling ahead of Australian students in maths and reading.

The results show Australian students are slipping in maths performance by about a half a year of schooling compared to 10 years ago.

How the states/territories rated:


The decline was stronger in girls than boys, with girls dropping to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.

The report also found a wide gap between students in different parts of the country.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory lagged well behind other states in all three areas.

About 14,500 Australian students from 775 schools were measured in the assessment, which was conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) for the OECD.

ACER's director of educational monitoring and research, Dr Sue Thomson, says gender, Indigenous status and socio-economic status still divide student outcomes.

Australian students from a wealthy background show a difference of about two-and-a-half years of schooling compared to a student from the lowest socio-economic group.

Questionnaire responses have also found girls hold a much more negative view about maths.

"Australia has slipped backwards to the type of gender disparity that was seen decades ago, and the performance scores of girls coupled with a number of particularly negative motivational attitudes puts Australia further away from providing all students with the same educational opportunities," Dr Thomson said.

Indigenous students are on average performing significantly worse than non-Indigenous students, a difference of about two-and-a-half years of schooling or more in maths, science and reading.

Ms Thomson also raised concerns that more than two-fifths of students failed to reach base proficiency levels in maths.

"These are the levels at which the Ministerial Council set as not really ambitious goals but achievable goals for a country such as Australia and for a large proportion of students not to be achieving those results is quite a worry," she said.

Twelve other countries also showed declines in maths literacy over 10 years, with the largest decline occurring in Sweden, then Finland, New Zealand, Iceland then Australia.

See how the countries compare in the latest results:

Embed:Map of educational performance, December 4 2013  

Results back Government's plan to focus on teachers, says Pyne

Education Minister Christopher Pyne says the results are a bad report card on Labor's years in office.

"In that period our results dramatically declined," he said.

"These are the worst PISA results since PISA began in 2000.

"They are demonstrably worse than anything that ever occurred under the Coalition government. They are a serious wake up call for the Australian education system."

He says the report's findings vindicate the Coalition's plan to focus on teacher quality.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the Government has fixed the school funding issue and school standards are the key to lifting rankings.

"We've got the funding sorted out. We need to have a debate about better school performance, about more principal autonomy, about more parental involvement, about more community engagement and above all else, about higher standards and that can now happen," he said.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has used the report to intensify pressure on the Government to adopt all of Labor's Gonski schools plan.

The Federal Government will go ahead with Labor's Gonski plan from next year but will only commit to four years of funding.

Mr Shorten says it needs to get on board for the full six years.

"It's time to implement Gonski in full. It's time to stop the political games and bandaid solutions and get on board giving the next generation of Australians the best start in life."

Opposition Education spokeswoman Kate Ellis says the figures are worrying.

"We have always conceded that the system has been broken, that the old Howard-style system is broken, which is why the Labor government went through the biggest reform of our school system in 40 years and why the Abbott Government now cannot afford to toss it aside."

Kevin Donnelly from the Education Standards Institute says he is not surprised by the results.

"We have in fact been in trouble, if you like, for many, many years.

"We have trouble with disruptive classrooms...[and] we don't allow our teachers to mentor one another and to help one another. In places like Singapore, they actually respect teachers, children respect teachers, they are well-resourced.

"They have a lot more time to learn from one another and to improve classroom practice."
He says the debate is not only about funding.

"Money is important, but it gets back to a rigorous curriculum, effective teaching practice, good teacher training - so there are a few things we can look at there."

Results back push for needs-based funding model: Greens

The Greens say Australia's results in the report should put more pressure on the Government to adopt a needs-based school funding model.

Senator Penny Wright has attacked the deals the Government struck with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory on Monday for more school funding.

She says those deals ditch the so-called Gonski funding model in favour of a "no-strings-attached" model.

"It's not just the quantity of money handed out to the states, it's the way that money is spent," Senator Wright said in a statement.

"If that money doesn't get to the most disadvantaged students, Australia will continue to decline on an international scale."

The Australian Education Union says the widening gaps vindicate the predictions of the Gonski review.

"This must be a wake-up call to the Abbott Government," deputy federal president Correna Haythorpe said in a statement.

"They have consistently refused to embrace the Gonski recommendations for more equitable funding arrangements.

"Amid the constant backflips and chaos, it remains impossible to determine whether they even care about the inequity in education and the social and economic cost of it.

"The Government must make a full six-year commitment to the more equitable funding arrangements contained in the Gonski law and agreements if schools are to be given the resources and time required to lift achievement levels and break the connection between disadvantage and poor outcomes."

China's education system could be model for other countries

A global education survey has revealed that when it comes to mathematics, reading and science, young people in Shanghai are the best in the world. The findings are part of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment or PISA. Full story >>

For more on this, we are joined by Wang Yan, Director of the Department of International Communication at the National Institute of Education Sciences.

1. Good evening. It’s not unusual to see Chinese students ace an exam. But do you think training children to be good at taking tests at a young age is a good strategy, or something that should be changed?

2. There was criticism from experts of China’s basic schooling system. But as Chinese students continue to excel internationally, do you think other countries will begin adopting parts of China’s educational model?

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1 comment:

  1. It is time to discard the importance of English as medium of instruction in science and maths as most English speaking countries like US, UK, Australia, Canada lag in global education rankings.

    China in fact has removed English in Gaukau. Chinese is now important as most Chinese schools excel for science and maths.