Sun. Dec 15th, 2019

Spanish students fall in science and math – La Provincia


The penultimate PISA report – the 15-year international student assessment system conducted in 72 countries – led to moderate optimism. After years and years of disappointing results, in 2016 the Spanish school seems to have started to leave mediocrity. For the first time, the 'note' of reading comprehension was above the OECD average while in science it is just average and in mathematics, below (but very little). This year's dossier indicates that the level has dropped. Little, but it has come down. The study also indicates that the Climate of discipline in the classroom is far from ideal. Of course, there are two positive facts: young Spaniards suffer less 'bullying' and are more satisfied with their lives.

The PISA report tests were conducted in 2018, so it is the first time that the study analyzes the 'children' of the LOMCE, the controversial law passed by the then minister José Ignacio Wert (PP). The dossier only has math and science data. Those of reading have not been made public since they were "unlikely", a consequence of the problems detected in the reading fluency test (which was new). The Community of Madrid asked the OECD not to publish any data because the 'pollution' in reading made all the data suspicious (to read the average in mathematics and science, among other variables, the reading data). However, the OECD has decided to move forward because it ensures that pollution, if any, is hardly significant.

Below average

In both mathematics and science, the average of Spanish students is about below the OECD average. In mathematics, Spain gets 481 points compared to 486 of the penultimate report in Spain. In science, the figure is 483 versus 496. In both subjects, the Spanish average is similar to that of Hungary and Lithuania.

75% of Spanish students are in a math level 2 (there are seven levels, from -1 to 6). The OECD average is slightly above (76%). They are students who can interpret and recognize, without direct instructions, how a simple everyday situation can be represented mathematically. Meanwhile, 7% are located at a level 5 or higher (the OECD average is 11%). They are kids and kids who come out of complex mathematical situations. Of all the countries that have participated in the study (72), Asians are the most outstanding in mathematics.


While, in science, 79% of Spanish students are located at a level 2 or higher (they are able to recognize the correct explanation for certain scientific phenomena and use their knowledge to identify conclusions based on evidence). 4% of the students are in the 'top' and have so much knowledge that they are in level 5 or 6 (the OECD average is 7%).

Socioeconomic conditions

In both science and mathematics, socioeconomic conditions are decisive when it comes to getting good or bad results. The better position, the better 'note'. Up to 12% in math and up to 10% in science.

Regarding sex, the boys get six more points in maths in front of the girls (The OECD average is five points) while in science the score is similar. Mind you, one in three male students expect to work as an engineer or scientist when they are 30 years old. In the case of female students, the figure is one in five. They are more coupled in health-related professions (three out of ten versus two out of ten in the case of male students). Around 10% of the children have expectations of working, in the future, in professions related to communication technologies. In the case of girls, it is barely 1%.

What Spain does improve is in the war against bullying. The PISA report reflects that 17% of respondents have suffered bullying (several times in the last month). In that chapter, the OECD average is 23%. Virtually all of the kids (92%) consider it good to help partners who are being harassed.

Jaleo in class

As the last report of the Ombudsman showed, in the Spanish classrooms it is hard work to start the class given the uproar that cause the students. 39% of respondents acknowledge that it takes "a long time" to put the necessary peace. 30% of students skip one day of class (does not specify if it can be due to illness) compared to 21% of the international average. In Spain, however, it is less frequent to be late for class: 44% versus 48% on average in the OECD.

Three out of four Spanish students (74%, compared to 67% of the OECD) declare their satisfaction with their lives. 96% say that sometimes, or always, they are happy. Those who are sad do not exceed 4%.

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