Singapore Tops the Chart, China Ranking Plummets in Best-Performing Secondary School Student Survey

Sheng Yuan / Yicai


(Yicai Global) Dec. 7 -- Latest test results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), found students in Singapore top tests in mathematics, reading and science for the best performances, while mainland China -- which held the top position in the last two PISA surveys -- has slid in the ratings.

PISA is a triennial survey the OECD organizes to assess student literacy. It evaluates the overall competence of hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds from more than 70 countries and regions in three subjects -- mathematics, reading and science -- and tabulates the international rankings of these in terms of education levels based on the test results. The science and math tests examine students’ ability to apply their knowledge proficiently in actual situations to understand and solve problems, while the reading probes student ability to acquire necessary information from texts, graphs and tables and interpret it.

PISA is becoming more widely regarded as a standard of measuring the education system and policy of countries and regions, and has gleaned growing official attention.

Among all nations participating in the test, Asian countries and regions performed best overall. Singapore posted an especially stellar performance, besting Shanghai -- which represented mainland China in the last test -- to take the apex spot as chart topper.

Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong students sat the test this year on behalf of mainland China, whose grading plunged to sixth in the math test, 10th in science, and 27th in reading, to bump it from the global top 20 in reading.

Taiwanese students rank fourth in science and math, and 23rd in reading.

Asian countries and regions claimed all seven top spots in math, with Singapore topping the list, followed by Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, mainland China and South Korea. China has a large share of top performers in mathematics. More than one in four students in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Taiwan are top-performing students in mathematics -- the highest percentage worldwide.

Japanese students ranked second in science and fifth in math -- higher than Japan’s ranking in the 2012 survey -- and eighth in reading, down from fourth last time.

Finland, Estonia, Canada and Ireland are the only non-Asian countries to rank among the top five in all three subjects.