Singapore students again emerge world beaters in international assessment

Singapore's 15-year-olds once again emerged among the top performers in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test conducted last year. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGARAN
Singapore's 15-year-olds once again emerged among the top performers in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test conducted last year. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGARAN

Singapore's 15-year-olds once again emerged among the top performers in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test conducted last year. The results released at 6pm on Tuesday ranked Singapore students second in mathematics and third in science and reading. In the previous Pisa conducted in 2009, students here were placed second in mathematics, fourth in science and fifth in reading. A total of 65 countries and economies took part in the latest study.

Singapore students performed even better - coming in No 1 among the 32 education systems which opted to participate in the computer-based assessments of mathematics and reading.

This is the second time that Singapore has participated in the study which is conducted once every three years by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Rankings are based on a country's average score in the test. Shanghai, which is also taking part for the second time, came in tops in all three categories. Asian cities including Hong Kong and Japan hogged the top five positions. The only exception was Finland, which came in fifth in reading and sixth in science.

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PISA 2012 rankings

Singapore improved its standing in the latest PISA test conducted last year. It was the second time Singapore participated in the study.

Rank Economy Score
1 Shanghai 613
2 Singapore 573
3 Hong Kong 561
4 Chinese Taipei 560
5 South Korea 554
6 Macau 538
7 Japan 536
8 Liechtenstein 535
9 Switzerland 531
10 Holland 523
Rank Economy Score
1 Shanghai 570
2 Hong Kong 545
3 Singapore 542
4 Japan 538
5 South Korea 536
6 Finland 524
7 Ireland 523
7 Chinese Taipei 523
7 Canada 523
10 Poland 518
Rank Economy Score
1 Shanghai 580
2 Hong Kong 555
1 Singapore 551
4 Japan 547
5 Finland 545
6 Estonia 541
7 South Korea 538
8 Vietnam 528
9 Poland 526
10 Canada 525
Rank Economy Score
1 Singapore 566
2 Shanghai 562
3 South Korea 553
4 Hong Kong 550
5 Macau 543
6 Japan 539
7 Chinese Taipei 537
8 Canada 523
9 Estonia 516
10 Belgium 511
Rank Economy Score
1 Singapore 567
2 South Korea 555
3 Hong Kong 550
4 Japan 545
5 Canada 532
6 Shanghai 531
7 Estonia 523
8 Australia 521
9 Ireland 520
10 Chinese Taipei 519

Pisa 2012 also showed that Singapore helped to level up the academically-weaker students, while sustaining the strong performance of the academically-stronger students. The proportion of weak performers dropped, while the number of top performers increased compared to 2009.

The OECD chose to assess 15-year-olds as they are nearing the end of secondary education. In Singapore, a total of 5,369 randomly-picked students, mainly from Secondary 3 and 4, from all 166 public secondary schools and 177 students from six private schools including international schools participated in the study.

Each student had to complete one test booklet of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, which required them to use their knowledge and skills in mathematics, science and reading to solve problems.