Tag Archives: PISA

Pisa 2012 headlines from around the world

The release of the Pisa 2012 rankings produced a flood of headlines around the world, many of them noting what was seen as bad news (except in many parts of Asia). Below, we provide a list of headlines from around the world that we put together based on a quick, unsystematic scan of mostly English-language publications:


Australia, News.com.au

PISA report finds Australian teenagers education worse than 10 years ago
“AUSTRALIAN teenagers’ reading and maths skills have fallen so far in a decade that nearly half lack basic maths skills and a third are practically illiterate.”

China, China Daily

Asia tops OECD’s latest education survey

“Asia outperformed the rest of the world in the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey published on Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”

Hong Kong, South China Morning Post

Shanghai teens still world’s best at reading, maths, science in Pisa survey

“Mainland city’s 15-year-olds the best at reading, maths and science, global survey finds, but HK youngsters are snapping at their heels.”

Japan, The Japan Times

Nation’s kids top fields in PISA test

“For the first time ever, Japanese 15-year-olds topped the list in reading and science performance in an international academic survey last year covering 34 developed countries, according to data released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

South Korea, The Korea Herald

Korea tops OECD in math proficiency

“The performance of Korean students proves the country’s established education system and also strong zeal for education, according to the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation.”

Malaysia, malay mail

PISA: Malaysia up in maths, down in science and reading

Malaysian students scored higher in mathematics but registered declines in both reading ability and science, according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey released today.

New ZealandNew Zealand Herald

Significant drops in NZ educational achievement – OECD report

“New Zealand educational achievement has dropped significantly in the core subjects of science, maths and reading, according to a OECD report.”

Singapore, Channel NewsAsia

S’pore edges up in PISA rankings as weaker students improve

“An international study of 15-year-olds’ mathematics, science and reading skills shows Singapore has made progress when it comes to helping weaker students level up to their peers.”



Finland, Yle.fi

Finnish pupils’ PISA results decline

“As expected, Finland has dropped in the OECD’s comparison of test results from 15-year-old pupils in 65 countries and regions. It placed 12th in mathematics, which was the main theme this year. However Finland ranked best in Europe in the other two categories: reading and science.”

France, Rfi.fr

French falling behind in maths says Pisa global education survey

“A global education survey released today showed that France has dropped to an average position in international maths tests and needs to improve educational results for immigrants and the poor.”

Germany, The Local

Germans improve Pisa education results

“German schoolchildren are improving in international comparisons, inching up the Pisa scale but still remain behind not only education giants such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but also Switzerland and the Netherlands.”

Liechtenstein, The Telegraph

OECD education report: Liechtenstein uses tiny classes and a specially-tailored maths programme to beat the competition

“With teachers on up to 130,000 euros per year, classrooms rarely over 15 pupils, and lucrative banking, hi-tech or industry jobs up for grabs, motivation is high”

Norway, The Nordic Page

Norway Left Behind Denmark and Finland in New PISA Survey

“Norwegian students have demonstrated the worst performance in math and science since 2009, but they are better in reading, shows OECD’s PISA survey.”

Spain, El País

No improvement in math, but Spanish students edge up in reading and science

“OECD’s latest Pisa global education survey places Spain slightly below average”

UK, The Guardian

UK students stuck in educational doldrums, OECD study finds

Influential Pisa report says Britain’s mid-table position is virtually unchanged from 2009 as attainment gap persists”


North & South America

Argentina, Infobae (via Google Translate)

Argentina deepens the decline in its educational quality

the international survey ranked “the country 59th among 65 nations. Seven out of 10 young people got the lowest grade in math.”

Brazil, Jornal do Brasil (via Google Translate)

Despite advances in education, Brazil occupies the lowest position Pisa

“Brazil is still in the lower levels of the ranking. Among the 65 countries compared, Brazil ranked 58th. However, since 2003, Brazil has the biggest gains in performance in mathematics, out of the 356 points that year and reaching 391 points in 2012, according to data released on Tuesday.”

Canada, The Globe and Mail

Canada’s fall in math-education ranking sets off alarm bells

“Canada has dropped out of the top 10 in international math education standings, a decline that is raising alarms about the country’s future prosperity.”

Chile, La Tercera (via Google Translate)

Chile rose two points in math, but their results stagnate

“The country scored 423 points, while the OECD countries averaged 71 more. School of Shanghai achieved 613 points. Since 2006, Chile has increased every year 1.9 results in Mathematics. Since 2000, the rise in Reading has been three points.”

United States, This Week in Education

Vietnam wins! (Pisa 2013)

(Alexander Russo’s roundup of headlines and stories about PISA 2013 from around the US)


Compulsory reading for elementary school pupils (in German)
Kleine Zeitung (13 June 2012)

International studies like OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the IEA’s Progress in International Reading Study (PIRLS) discovered reading difficulties for Austria pupils. (For example, Austria’s mean PISA reading score for 2009 was 402, which is in the 31 percentile, compared to the OECD mean of 489.  Search the PISA results here.)   Because of these international test results, the government is now suggesting that a compulsory “reading” course be implemented in primary schools.  As a part of this reform, “literature” would then be a separate subject area, although the reading of literary texts would be embedded in the curriculum to encourage the love of reading.


Response: Factors Behind The Success Of Ontario’s Schools — Part One and Part Two
Ferlazzo, L.  Education Week (21 May 2012 & 22 May 2012) 

What’s going on in Ontario’s schools?  Part One contains responses to this question from a teacher, an administrator, and two parent leaders; Part Two includes contributions from Professor Michael Fullan, a professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto and current special advisor to the premier and minister of education in Ontario, and readers.  Professor Fullan writes, “Unfortunately some countries in a hurry to address the issues get the solutions wrong.  I call these mistake ‘wrong drivers for whole system reform’.  Drivers are policy and strategy instruments designed to ’cause’ improvement in the system.  A wrong driver is one that does not work; a right driver is one that does produce improvement.  In our work on system reform we have been sorting out what drivers work and which ones do not.  This is our conclusion: excessive accountability, individualistic strategies designed to increase human capital, technology and ad hoc policy solutions waste valuable time and resources and often make matters worse.”  Other respondents point to support for teachers and involving students in the creation of assessments as reasons for the success of Ontario schools.

The following video provides an overview of some of the items discussed in Part One and Part Two of “Factors Behind The Success of Ontario’s Schools”:


Governor of Austrian province suggests including PISA results in students’ general grades
Der Standard (17 April 2012)

In order to increase student motivation for PISA tests, Josef Pühringer, the Governor of the Province of Upper Austria, suggests including PISA test results in students’ general grades. He believes this would lead to higher test scores because the problem with Austria’s PISA results, in his view, is one of student motivation rather than weak student knowledge and competences.  (Find more about Austria’s performance on PISA in relation to other nations here and here.)


Why we are wrong to rush children into reading
Lambert, M.  The Herald (1 April 2012)

This commentary asserts that “teaching someone how to read does not make them a reader. In fact, it’s Pavlovian: teaching a young child to read before they are ready might put them off altogether, because they experience this process as intense difficulty, and it takes at least two years before they begin to master the skills, by which time they have hardly associated reading and writing with pleasure and profit, quite apart from having their confidence severely battered.”  The author insists that students should not be forced to learn reading and writing until the second or third year of primary schools, insisting that younger children should be engaged in play.  He cites findings from PISA, including that only 46% of Scottish children only read when they had to and only 26% described reading as a hobby.  (See Scotland’s 2006 PISA performance here; see 2009 results here).  He advocates a system where the early primary years will be a time to instill “curiosity about the world, verbal dexterity and reasoning in describing it, storytelling in being imaginative with it, and a familiarity with the alphabet and different language forms, registers and modes.”  He believes this will help Scottish students gain the confidence and skills that would help them with reading and writing.


Singapore – Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education
OECD (10 February 2012)

This official video from the OECD’s Directorate for Education provides an overview of Singapore’s educational system, highlighting some of the reasons why Singapore consistently scores well on PISA.  If you don’t know much about education in Singapore, this provides an excellent introduction.


Catching up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia
Jensen, B.  Grattan Institute (February 2012)

Four of the five top education nations in the PISA 2009 study come from East Asia – Shanghai, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore.  (Finland ranked third in the study.)  In order to draw lessons for Australia, this report from the Grattan Institute found that it was neither cultural factors (Confucianism, Tiger Mums, rote learning) nor the amount of budget that contributed to educational success.  Instead, the report suggests that these countries implemented ideas and levers that are known to be effective for system improvement (e.g. focus on effective student learning, a strong culture of teacher education, collaboration, mentoring, feedback, and sustained professional development).