Around the World in PISA 2018 Headlines

Around the world, another flurry of headlines followed the release of the 2018 PISA results last week.  As we did in 2015, we’ve pulled together some of those headlines and links in a scannable alphabetical list.  That scan showed that critics continue to stress the difficulty of using the PISA results to draw any definitive conclusions on the quality of educational systems (“PISA Doesn’t Define Education Quality, And Knee-Jerk Policy Proposals Won’t Fix Whatever Is Broken,” The Conversation; How PISA Created An Illusion Of Education Quality And Marketed It To The World,” The Washington Post), but at the same time, most headlines focused on changes in scores or rankings by trumpeting gains, highlighting losses, or lamenting stagnation.

Overall, the negative news stole the spotlight, even for countries like Singapore at the very top of the rankings (“Mainland Chinese students best in world as Singapore, Hong Kong slip down rankings”, South China Morning Post).  Pasi Sahlberg summed it all up by pointing out that, on average, scores were declining in the 37 OECD countries (including top PISA performers like Finland, Japan, Korea, and many provinces of Canada) and declaring “Sleepless, distracted and glued to devices: no wonder students’ results are in decline.”

Although China’s astronomical scores were featured in many stories, some international headlines pointed to the problems with those scores as well (“Teens From China’s Wealthiest Regions Rank Top Of The Class In Global Education Survey,” CNN.com; “China Is No. 1 On PISA — But Here’s Why Its Test Scores Are Hard To Believe,” Washington Post). Some of the headlines from sources in China also noted areas for improvement, including concerns about inequity, students’ emotional health, and lack of attention to learning that cannot be measured in standardized tests like PISA (“China To Further Promote Education Equity In Light Of PISA Test: Ministry,” Xinhua Net; “给看不见的教育指标更多关注” [translated as “Pay More Attention To Invisible Indicators”] China Education Daily; 教育体检PISA的启示:成绩卓越但仍需努力 [“Reflection From PISA Test: Excellent Scores But Need Improvement”], China Education Daily).

In the US, headlines predictably focused on the bad news (“It Just Isn’t Working’: PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Efforts,” New York Times), and even those with a more slightly positive take still ended with a negative spin (“U.S. Students Gain Ground Against Global Peers. But That’s Not Saying Much,” Education Week). The Director of the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, Mark Schneider, didn’t see the PISA results as providing grounds for optimism either (“The New PISA Scores Tell Us Lots About the Sad State of American Education. What They Can’t Tell Us Is How to Fix It,” The74).  But there’s always next year, or, in this case, PISA 2021…

Australia
‘Alarm bells’: Australian Students Record Worst Result in Global Tests (Brisbane Times, December 3, 2019)

Belarus
Belarus Fares Well in its Maiden PISA Test (Belarus News, December 3, 2019)

Belgium
Young Francophones’ Improve at Maths, but Remain Poor at Reading (Brussels Times, December 3, 2019)

Canada
Canadian High School Students Among Top Performers In Reading, According to New International Ranking(The Globe and Mail, December 3, 2019)

China
China To Further Promote Education Equity In Light Of PISA Test: Ministry (Xinhua Net, December 4, 2019)

给看不见的教育指标更多关注 [translated as “Pay More Attention To Invisible Indicators”] (China Education Daily)

教育体检PISA的启示:成绩卓越但仍需努力 [“Reflection From PISA Test: Excellent Scores But Need Improvement”] (China Education Daily)

England
Pisa Tests: UK Rises in International School Rankings (BBC News, December 3, 2019)

Estonia
Estonia Tops Tables in PISA International Education Rankings (ERR, December 3, 2019)

Finland
PISA: Gap Between Girls’ and Boys’ Reading Skills Largest in Finland (YLE, December 3, 2019)

Germany
German Education System Has Room for Improvement: Report (DW, December 3, 2019)

Iceland
Icelandic Students Below Average in Reading (Iceland Monitor, December 3, 2019)

Ireland
Pisa Rankings: Irish Teens Among the Best at Reading in Developed World (The Irish Times, December 3, 2019)

Japan
Japanese 15-Year-Olds Rank High in Math, sciences, but Reading Down: PISA Exam (The Mainichi, December 3, 2019)

Malaysia
Malaysia’s Ranking in Pisa Improves (Malay Mail, December 3, 2019)

Northern Ireland
Pisa Tests: NI Pupils Better than World Average at Reading (BBC News, December 3, 2019)

Philippines
Philippines’ Dismal Pisa Scores Spark Soul-Searching Over State of Education (South China Morning Post, December 8, 2019)

Poland
Polish Students’ Results in Top Three in International Study (The First News, December 3, 2019)

Romania
PISA 2018 test results show over 4 in 10 Romanian students don’t understand what they read; education minister not that worried (Romania Insider, December 3, 2019) 

Scotland
Pisa: Mixed Report for Scottish Education in World Rankings (BBC News, December 3, 2019)

Singapore
Pisa 2018: Singapore Slips to Second Place behind China but Still Chalks Up High Scores (The Straits Times, December 3, 2019)

Spain
Spain Receives Its Worst Ever Science Results in PISA Test (El País, December 3, 2019)

Switzerland
PISA Study Finds Swiss Students ‘Still Behind’ on Reading (Swiss Info, December 3, 2019)

United Arab Emirates
UAE Is Up 8 points in Mathematics According to PISA 2018  (Emirates News Agency, December 3, 2019)

US
U.S. Students Gain Ground Against Global Peers. But That’s Not Saying Much (Education Week, December 3, 2019)

It Just Isn’t Working’: PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Efforts (New York Times, December 3, 2019)

U.S. Students’ Scores Stagnant on International Exam, With Widening Achievement Gaps in Math and Reading (The 74, December 3, 2019)

U.S. Students Show No Improvement in Math, Reading, Science on International Exam (U.S. News, December 3, 2019)

U.S. Students Continue to Lag Behind Peers in East Asia and Europe in Reading Math and Science, Exams Show (Washington Post, December 3, 2019)

Vietnam

VN Gets High Scores but Not Named in PISA 2018 Ranking (Vietnam News, December 6, 2019)

Wales

Education: Why Have Wales’ Teenagers Under-Performed? (BBC News, December 3, 2019)

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