Asian kids top international education test, US students lag
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 04, 2013, 11:33
  
Washington: Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds while US students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results.

Students in Shanghai, China's largest city, had the top scores in all subjects, and Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong students weren't far behind. Even Vietnam, which had its students participate for the first time, had a higher average score in math and science than the United States.

About half a million students in 65 nations and educational systems took part in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which is coordinated by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.

Most results come from a sampling of scores from countries as a whole, but in China it was given in select regions.

The US Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics released the results. The test, given every three years to 15-year-olds, is designed to assess students' problem-solving skills.

US scores on the PISA haven't changed much since testing started in 2000, even as students in countries like Ireland and Poland have shown improvement and surpassed US students.

Irish Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the results reflected improvements among Ireland's lower-achieving students, even as the country's top students underperformed compared to those in other countries.

"While these are only one set of test results at one point in time, I am delighted to see Irish students performing well in reading and science and quite well in mathematics," he said.

In Britain, scores were about the same as three years ago, prompting debate about why the country has not improved despite increased spending on education. The nation did better than the United States in math and science but was not among the top performers in any subject.

"Since the 1990s, our performance in these league tables has been at best stagnant, at worst declining," said Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove, adding that the results "underline the urgent need for our reforms."

Gove's ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party both blamed each other's policies for the results.

Meanwhile a business organisation said Britain has fallen behind in part because of "historic complacency" and a lack of focus on achievements and results compared to Asian countries.

"Countries with an unrelenting focus on the quality and rigor of their education system will be the ones who win," said Mike Harris at the Institute of Directors.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, December 04, 2013, 11:33


comments powered by Disqus