Pisa test rankings put Thai students near bottom of Asia

Pisa test rankings put Thai students near bottom of Asia

Scores below Asian peers, global average

Red circles show the Thai standing against the world in, from left, overall ranking, in science, and in reading and maths. (Source: PISA 2015 Results)
Red circles show the Thai standing against the world in, from left, overall ranking, in science, and in reading and maths. (Source: PISA 2015 Results)

Thai students are underperforming their peers in several Asian countries as their scores were below the international average in all three subjects tested in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa)

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Thai students plunge in Pisa test rankings

Dumrongkiat Mala

The 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) shows sharp falls in maths, sciences and reading scores for students in Thailand.

Thai students are underperforming their peers in several Asian countries as their scores were below the international average in all three subjects.

Pisa, which is funded by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), surveyed the knowledge and skills in mathematics, sciences and reading of more than half a million 15-year-olds across 70 countries worldwide. The evaluation takes place every three years. Thailand has participated in the evaluation since 2000.

According to the survey released on Tuesday, Thailand ranked 54th for maths, 57th for reading, and 54th for sciences.

Thai children scored 415 points in maths, far lower than the international average of 490 points. In sciences, Thai students scored 421 points, much worse than the international average of 493. And in reading, Thais scored 409 points, well below the OECD average of 493 points.

Acting Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said Thailand's performance in reading and sciences has dropped sharply from 2012 when students scored 444 points in sciences and 441 in reading.

However, the country's maths performance has only deteriorated by 12 points since the last evaluation.

Standing at 54th, Thailand's overall performance is far below other Asian countries. Singapore was the top performer in all three subjects in the Pisa tests, followed by Japan in second place, Taiwan in fourth, China in sixth, while Vietnam did well at eighth.

Finland, Estonia, Canada and Ireland were the only non-Asian countries to get into the top 5 in all three subjects.

Athapol Anunthavorasakul, an academic from Chulalongkorn University's faculty of education, said the Pisa results show Thailand is failing to improve its education quality.

"In the past two to three years, the Education Ministry has invested money trying to get better results in the Pisa test. It trained many teachers and students for the latest global snapshot of student performance, but our country is still lagging behind leading countries in education and has made no progress at all in international rankings," he said.

However, Mr Athapol said Pisa alone does not truly reflect the academic ability of all Thai students because what Pisa measures is not the accumulation of information and knowledge as traditional academic tests do, but how children can apply themselves to solve issues they are likely to face in the real world.

"In 2012, we allowed students from the demonstration schools and Princess Chulabhorn college schools [to take part in the Pisa test] and that is why we saw a slight improvement in Thai scores. But I think this time students in these schools may not have taken part, so our scores dropped again," he said.

Mr Athapol said Pisa results indicate serious disparities between students in well-known schools and students in rural areas.

Therefore, he suggested that the Education Ministry try to narrow this gap, not just climb international rankings.

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  • ability (noun): being able to do something - ความสามารถ
  • academic: relating to education - เชิงวิชาการ
  • academic: someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job - นักวิชาการ
  • accumulation: increasing over time as more and more is added - การเก็บสะสม, การพอกพูน, การรวมตัวกันมากขึ้น, การเพิ่มจำนวนมากขึ้น,
  • acting: doing the work of the usual person in a particular job while they are not there, or until a new person starts - ที่รักษาการแทน
  • apply: to make use of something - นำมาใช้
  • assessment: the process of making a judgment or forming an opinion, after considering something or someone carefully - การประเมิณสถานการณ์
  • average: an amount calculated by adding several amounts together, finding a total, and dividing the total by the number of amounts - เฉลี่ย, ค่าเฉลี่ย
  • cooperation: working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides - ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน
  • demonstration school (noun): a school associated with a university and used in teaching training programmes - โรงเรียนสาธิต
  • deteriorate: to become worse - เลวร้ายลง
  • development: the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc - การพัฒนา
  • disparity (adj): a difference between things, especially reflecting something negative or unfair - ความไม่เหมือนกัน, ความต่าง,ความไม่เสมอกัน
  • evaluation: the process of thinking carefully about something before making a judgment about its value, importance, or quality - การประเมินผล
  • faculty: a group of departments in a college or university which specialise in a particular subject or group of subjects - คณะ
  • funded: given money - บริจาค
  • gap (noun): a difference between people or groups - ช่องว่าง
  • improve: to make better - ทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • improvement: when something gets better or when you make it better - การปรับปรุง, การทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • indicate: to show that something is true, exists or will happen - แสดง, ทำให้รู้
  • invest: to spend money on something in order to make it better or more successful - ลงทุน
  • issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
  • lagging: moving or advancing so slowly that you are behind other people or things - ล้าหลัง
  • minister: a member of the cabinet, the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - รัฐมนตรี
  • narrow: to make less wide - ทำให้แคบลง
  • participate: to take part in something - เข้าร่วม
  • peers: people who are the same age or have the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group - เพื่อน
  • performance (noun): the standard to which someone/something does something - การกระทำ, การแสดง, การทำให้บรรลุผลสำเร็จ
  • plunge (verb): to move or fall suddenly and often a long way forward, down or into something - ลงอย่างเร็ว
  • progress: the process of developing or of getting nearer to achieving or completing something - ความคืบหน้า
  • quality: the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is - คุณภาพ
  • rank: to put someone or something into a position according to their success, importance, size etc - จัดลำดับ
  • rankings (noun): the position of somebody/something on a scale that shows how good or important they are in relation to other similar people or things, especially in sport - อันดับ
  • reflect: to show - สะท้อน แสดงถึง
  • rural: connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities  - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
  • sharply: suddenly and by a large amount - อย่างเร็ว
  • skills (noun): the ability to do certain things well, usually as a result of experience and training - ฝีมือ, ทักษะ
  • slight: small in size or amount - เล็กน้อย
  • snapshot: a photograph, especially one taken quickly - ภาพถ่ายเร็ว
  • solve: to find the correct answer or explanation for something - หาคำตอบได้
  • survey: the act of asking for and recording information - การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
  • survey: the act of examining and recording available information - การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
  • take part in (verb): to join and be part of some activity; participate as a participant - เข้าร่วม มีส่วนร่วม
  • traditional: things (buildings, clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time - แบบดั้งเดิม, เป็นประเพณี
  • underperform: to be less successful or active than people expect -
  • worldwide: throughout the world - ทั่วโลก
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