July 7, 2020

One in four students suspends the most basic reading tests

One in four students at the OECD does not pass the most basic reading tests, the organization said in its latest PISA report on Tuesday, which evaluated some 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries and jurisdictions with a special focus on reading comprehension.

These students cannot identify the main idea of ​​a text or have difficulty connecting different informative elements from different sources, the OECD said in the 2018 edition of its International Student Assessment Program (PISA).

In addition, not even one in ten are able to distinguish between fact and opinion when they read about a topic that is unfamiliar to them, which predicts future difficulties in an increasingly volatile and digitalized world, according to the authors of the study.


Students from the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zheijang, followed by those from Singapore, topped the reading comprehension list with a respective average of 555 and 549 points, above the 487 of the OECD group, compared to the 340 from the Philippines and the 342 from the Dominican Republic, which closed the list.

On this occasion, PISA has postponed the publication of the reading results of Spain after detecting "anomalies" in some students, which for example took less than 25 seconds to answer more than 20 questions.

The record remained practically similar in the math test, with a global average of 489: those four Chinese cities together (591) and Singapore (569) stood out again, and the Dominican Republic (325) and the Philippines (353) repeated in The last posts.

Similarly, in science, with Chinese (590) and Singapore (551) students in the lead, Dominicans (336) and Filipinos in line, and countries such as Spain (483) and France (493) close to the average of the OECD, of 489 points.

Not reaching the minimum level of mathematics, as happens to one in four students, means among other things not knowing how to convert a price into a different currency.

The average score in the three tests between 2015 and 2018 has remained stable, although, at the individual level, only seven territories improved in all (Albania, Colombia, Macao, Moldova, Peru, Portugal and Qatar) and another seven worsened (Australia, Finland, Iceland, Korea, Holland, New Zealand and Slovakia).

The agency warned of the lack of significant progress in the last decade, despite the fact that education expenses have increased by 15% in the same period, and warned that inadequate education marginalizes because it does not provide the necessary tools to face the challenges of the future working world.

Students with better socioeconomic conditions also had higher results than those most disadvantaged. In reading comprehension, for example, among those who reached the highest level there was 17.4% of the first group, but only 2.9% of the second.

This latest PISA report also showed how digital technology affects their customs outside the institute: students spend an average of three hours a day connected during the week, one hour more than in 2012.

On average, there were 13% of students with immigrant families, three points more than in 2009, and their reading comprehension results were the equivalent of one academic year behind the rest of their classmates.


The report also found that girls are better both in reading comprehension – with an average of 502 points in general, 30 points more than their peers – and in science (490, +2), while they lose in math by five points (487 ).

The differences between genders are also manifested in their job expectations: more than a quarter of the boys with the best results want to be engineers or scientists, when they have those same aspirations less than one in six girls.

The PISA report, which also measured their well-being, highlights that two out of ten students reported having suffered physical or verbal harassment at least several times a month, with percentages that in the Philippines and Brunei, with the highest figures, rose to 65% and at 50%.

Marta Garde

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