East Asia wins top marks in OECD's education rankings

Tue Dec 3, 2013 1:13pm EST
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By Leigh Thomas

PARIS (Reuters) - The Chinese city of Shanghai came top for mathematics, reading and science among teenagers in a study that suggested East Asian schools were driving academic excellence by tackling tough classrooms and abandoning rote-learning.

Fifteen-year-olds in the United States trailed in maths and were average for reading and science in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's triennial student survey that assessed its 34 members and 31 mostly developing countries.

With a special focus on mathematics, the latest Programme in International Student Assessment (PISA) tested the maths, reading and science knowledge of some 510,000 15-year-olds last year.

Released on Tuesday, the study said schools in East Asian countries dominated the league table. With Shanghai at the top, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea, Macao and Japan also won high marks for mathematics, reading and science.

Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands also made it into the top 10 best performing education systems while Germany and Poland made significant progress.

In maths, students in Shanghai had the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above the OECD average.

The recipe of East Asia's success is setting high standards for all schools and giving them the means to achieve them, the OECD's head of education Andreas Schleicher told Reuters.

"They basically succeed in attracting the most talented teachers to the most challenging classrooms, they get really great principals in the tough schools," Schleicher said.   Continued...

Students wearing hats listen to a speech during their graduation ceremony at the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA) in Hamburg, in this September 26, 2012 file picture. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/Files