Pisa results 2018: Latest rankings show Hong Kong down two places to fourth in reading and maths, remain ninth in science


Mainland China, Singapore and Macau beat Hong Kong in the reading and maths portion of the test

Kelly Ho |

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Students from mainland China scored the highest in mother-tongue reading and maths.

Hong Kong secondary students ranked fourth in a global study on competence in reading and maths – dropping two places since 2015.

They remained in ninth place for competency in science, according to survey results released on Tuesday.

More than 6,000 students in Hong Kong – all aged 15 – took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test in April last year.

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The survey, which is conducted every three years, uses computer-based assessments to evaluate students’ abilities in mother-tongue reading, maths, and science.

Out of 79 countries, Hong Kong ranked fourth in reading and maths, behind Mainland China, Singapore and Macau. Students earned a collective score of 524 points in reading and 551 points in maths. Meanwhile, the city failed to beat its 2015 ranking in science, remaining in ninth place with 517 points.

Professor Hau Kit-lai, National Project Manager of Hong Kong Pisa 2018, noted that Hong Kong’s score in science has been falling since 2012. He suggested this was because fewer students are choosing all science-related electives under the New Senior Secondary (NSS) curriculum.

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“It is really important for us to reflect on Hong Kong students’ performance in science, since everyone is talking about Stem now. It’s not an easy problem to solve, as education reform takes years,” Hau said.

He added that Macau has been steadily catching up with Hong Kong in recent years; in the latest study, it beat Hong Kong in all three disciplines. The widest gap was in science, in which Macau is 27 points ahead.

Although boys typically perform better in maths and science, the survey results revealed that girls in Hong Kong outperformed boys in all subjects. This may be because girls tend to be more conscious learners, assessing their understanding of a subject and finding ways to strengthen their knowledge.