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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 3:52pm
NewsHong Kong

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

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 7:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 12:25pm

Shanghai's 15-year-olds are still the best in the world at reading, maths and science, according to the latest global survey.

Hong Kong's youngsters ranked second in science and reading - up from third and fourth in 2009 - and held their third place for maths.

But compared with their counterparts in Singapore - second in maths, and third in science and reading - Hong Kong pupils improved less, gaining only 11 points more in reading and six in maths and in science from the 2009 assessment. The Singaporeans gained 16 points in reading, 11 in maths and nine in science. Shanghai students also showed more improvement, gaining 14 points in reading and 13 in maths compared with 2009.

The assessments also showed that just 12 per cent of pupils in Hong Kong were top achievers in maths, well below the 30.8 per cent for Shanghai and 19 per cent in Singapore.

The latest report by the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) was based on surveys of more than half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries and regions.

Professor Esther Ho Sui-chu, director of the Centre for International Student Assessment in Hong Kong, said: "I think the differences in improvement are not very important."

She attributed those differences to the way cities treated the assessment.

"I don't know how Shanghai and Singapore did the assessment, but Hong Kong students did not prepare for the assessment and took it in a relaxed way," she said.

In April and May last year, 5,000 Hong Kong pupils from 148 government, aided and independent schools were randomly selected to take the assessments.

"We need to work on how to nurture more bright students, as our exam-orientated system tends to focus on high achievers' performance in exams but does not help them learn more than that," Ho said.

The difference in performance among pupils from the same school also increased, suggesting that the abilities of children within the same school vary more. And there were significant differences between the sexes in maths and reading, with boys outperforming girls by 15 points in maths and girls outscoring boys by 25 points in reading.

Ho said the government had to provide teachers with more resources to develop different teaching methods or materials for students of various ability levels.

An Education Bureau spokesman said the results showed that Hong Kong's curriculum reform, with its emphasis on "reading to learn", mathematics development and scientific thinking, had been a success.

"The outstanding performance of Hong Kong pupils in Pisa once again proves that our education is heading in the right direction," the spokesman said.

He said pupils' socio-economic status seemed to have less effect on their performance than in other regions, and that differences in performance among schools was smaller, suggesting they are provided with equal opportunities to receive high- quality education.

Hong Kong joined the ranking in 2000, when the three-yearly study, which began as a comparison between OECD member countries, was opened up to other school systems.



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whymank’s inspiring remarks made me think of several things
“When will the yellow people purge their inferiority complex?” he asked
and he isn’t sure if “test superiority will result in producing crème de la crème”
Willie P head of HK Bk during HK’s return to China
rightly noted in an interview with Instituitional Investors
that real bright local Chinese would do their own things
and not work for others
Among local professionals in HK who are the most “respectable”
Engineers who mostly have to work for foreign firms?
Lawyers who make a living aping foreign customs
trying to compete with others in a foreign tongue?
They remind me of Franzen’s Freedom
where the child who preferred the next door family
moved to live with the neighbor
Academic ability, like freedom and independence
can’t take any one far if it isn’t applied for wise purposes
To measure sucesss, we must first start with test parameters
Historically power moved from Greece to Rome to Vandals
To gain general respectability aim at wealth, power and culture
not just for yourself but also for you own people
Japanese “statesmen” in black suit
look to me like homeless monkies acting at home
Hong Kong may score high in PISA, like the rest of students in the Confucius influenced countries are the products of straight discipline for schooling. These students have an edge as test takers for their additional drillings in afterschool learning. The best results of the once every three year test may become predictable where they would go unless the time of the test takers spent totally in learning before taking the PISA tests is weight in. But I am concern more of the unintended effect of the PISA when countries outside of the Asian ones that should they begin to see them as a model to emulate.
Professor Esther HO is rightly to point out that the assessment of student performance has been too focus on test achievement and produces good test takers. The sad thing is that bright students are in the mix of the rest in the Hong Kong education system. Albeit there are three bandings, schools for the gifted in arts and science are jarringly absent in Hong Kong. New York City has schools for the gifted for the longest time in history and one can count them with two hands full.
The PISA should do a follow up study. For who took the test in year 2000 they must be by now 28 years old. How are they doing? Most likely we know, for those Asians they would be doing fine in achieving a well to do living. Anything above average in breakthroughs most likely historically development most likely would be exception rather than the rule when given even few more years.
Find out the current achievements in term of their careers of those who took the test in year 2000. They must be 28 years old at the threshold to their prime.
Ironies abound as Shanghai achieves the highest test scores when China’s new leadership is restricting excessive time and work for students in schools. Too, Chinese students are heading more ever at younger age to US and Britain -- the two average PISA achievers. While the ironies may be related, the sure thing I can imagine is that the school children are most likely happy participants in both.
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my best friend's ex-wife makes $81 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16571 just working on the internet for a few hours. read the article>>> www.FB39.Com
"Shanghai is the home of China's elite, and there are restrictions that keep migrant students out of municipal schools."
Yes, Shanghai as well as many other metropoles in the Mainland are the home of the elite's. So are other big cities around the world in different countries.
"The teachers there are paid more than double those in outlying provinces, and schools are significantly better funded."
The cost of living in Shanghai is also much higher than in outlying provinces. You can not pay a teacher in Shanghai only 2000RMB/month. The schools in Shanghai are better funded because Shanghai is a big city, like New York where schools as well are better funded than schools in "Smallville".
"and parents spend a lot on outside tutoring".
In the USA, if we want to have quality education you have to pay premiums for it. In Europe, parents as well spend a lot on outside tutoring if their offsprings performes bad in school. What is your point?
"About 84% of Shanghai high school graduates go to college, compared to 24% nationally."
I will pretend the figures are accurate.....And in other countries it's different?
They say the Indians are all top scorers & the prominent group of engineers/CEOs in Silicon Valley. How come Indian students are not listed in this survey? If not, that means the results are not accurate. It's like deleting Usain Bolt in running & naming the next guy as the best.
A person I know used to send flowers anonymously
to hard working and plain looking female colleagues
on February 14
I learnt from this beautiful woman
that one shouldn’t overstuff oneself on Boxing Day
Annual events that repeat themselves
should be appreciated from different angles
please don't neglect the plain and ordinary
Please don't neglect the plain and ordinary



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