Singapore moves up in PISA rankings as weaker students improve

Singapore moves up in PISA rankings as weaker students improve
Students having a lesson in a classroom in Ngee Ann Secondary School. Photo: Ernest Chua.
Country places third in science and reading literacy skills, up from fourth and fifth respectively in 2009
Published: 6:02 PM, December 3, 2013
Updated: 9:10 AM, December 4, 2013

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s overall performance last year in the triennial study of education systems around the world has improved, with academically weaker students doing better than they did in 2009.

The latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), released today (Dec 3), show Singapore moved up to third place for reading and science literacy skills while maintaining its second position for mathematics literacy skills. In 2009, Singapore had placed fifth in reading literacy and fourth in science literacy.

Shanghai came out tops for all three literacy skills in last year’s assessment.

This is the second time that Singapore has participated in PISA and 65 participating education systems were assessed.

A total of 5,369 students, mainly from Secondary 3 and 4, from all 166 public secondary schools and 177 students from six private schools, including Madrasahs and foreign-system schools, participated in the study. They were representative of the 15-year-old population in Singapore.

The study, organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, examines and compares how well education systems around the world are helping their students acquire the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in modern societies. It assesses the capacity of 15-year-old students to apply knowledge and skills in three areas — Mathematics, Reading and Science — and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they solve problems in a variety of real-life situations.

Commenting on Singapore’s performance in the study, Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education, said that she is heartened the results show Singapore’s education system has “levelled up” academically-weaker students and given them a strong foundation, while at the same time, stretched high-performing students.

“The findings show that MOE is on the right track in developing in our students competencies needed for the future workplace, while maintaining our strong fundamentals in literacy, numeracy and science,” said Ms Ho.

“We will continue to build on our strengths,” she added.