Although the expenditure per elementary and secondary school student increased by around 15% in OECD countries in the last decade, the average performance of these students in most member states has seen virtually no improvement. And it is not just a problem of the nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: of the total of 79 countries that participated in the last PISA report (International Program for Student Evaluation)In 2018, only seven have improved their results "significantly" in the three areas analyzed: reading, math and science. And only one of them, Portugal, is a member of the OECD. Something that, for the secretary general of the Paris-based agency, Ángel Gurría, can only be described as “disappointing,” as he makes clear in the presentation of the report, this Tuesday in Paris.
There is another disturbing fact: in a changing and increasingly digitalized world, where the sources of consultation have multiplied – who still has a paper encyclopedia at home? – the ability to differentiate between what is a fact and an opinion It is significantly reduced: less than one in ten OECD students (8.7%) “dominate complex reading tasks such as distinguishing between fact and opinion when they read topics they are not familiar with,” warns the report, which evaluated 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries in 2018.
But as much or perhaps more worrying is the other side of the balance: in a world where even the simplest jobs are already done online, one in four OECD students is unable to complete the most basic reading tasks, such as “ identify the main idea in a moderately long text or connect fragments of information from different sources ”. This problem is particularly pointed out in 10 OECD countries, in which 25% of the students obtained a reading test performance below level 2, which is when the students "begin to demonstrate their reading ability to acquire knowledge and solve a broad spectrum of practical problems." These are Chile, Colombia, Slovakia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, Mexico and Turkey. In addition, the number of students with poor reading ability – something that hinders one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – increased since 2009, the last time reading was the main subject of the test.
The problem was also recorded in science, where 22% of OECD students did not reach the basic level, and in mathematics (24%).
In general terms, only seven countries or economies have observed an improvement in the performance of their students in all three areas: Albania, Qatar, Colombia, the Chinese region of Macao, Moldova, Peru and Portugal.
On the reverse side of the table are seven other countries: Australia, Korea, Finland, Holland, Iceland, and the Czech Republic, which recorded a declining performance in all three parts of the test.
Spain is at the center of the table, among those 13 countries or economies for which "no significant improvement or decline in any of the subjects could be established," the report said.
The OECD presented on Tuesday the first three chapters of the 2018 PISA Report. In addition to the general results, the “well-being” of students is broken down into another long volume, where among others the levels of bullying or bullying, something that one in four students suffer on average in the OECD. A third volume is dedicated to analyzing "equality", in the sense that good school performance is not related to the socio-economic status, gender of the student, or whether it is of immigrant origin or not.
In this last subject, a positive key: the fact that one of every 10 disadvantaged students of the OECD (who are in the 25% lower of the socio-economic and cultural scale of their country) manages to qualify among 25% of the students With better reading performance, the report points out that being born with fewer advantages does not necessarily predestinate a disadvantaged life. The data also show, the report adds, that "the world is no longer divided between rich and well-educated nations and the poor with low education." In fact, the level of economic development "only explains 28% of the variation in learning outcomes between countries if a linear relationship between the two is assumed."
However, "it is still necessary for many countries to promote equality more urgently." Because, as Gurría points out when opening the report, students from disadvantaged families “They generally have only one chance in life, and that is to have a great teacher and a good school.”. If they miss that opportunity, he warns, "subsequent education opportunities will tend to reinforce, rather than mitigate, the initial differences in learning outcomes."
There is also work to be done on equality between girls and boys. While the students obtained much better results in reading than their peers – up to 30 points above in the OECD countries – and enjoy reading more than they do, the boys continue to get better results in mathematics and mostly in technological careers or Scientific
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