Poor grades for Thai students in PISA tests

Poor grades for Thai students in PISA tests

Thai students still follow their peers in other countries in reading, maths and science in the latest Pisa tests. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Thai students still follow their peers in other countries in reading, maths and science in the latest Pisa tests. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thai students are consistently performing below the international average in core subjects, according to the results of the international 2018 PISA examinations.

Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday, the results show Thai students underperforming in reading, mathematics and science compared to most countries participating in the evaluation. 

The PISA examinations, which take place every three years, evaluate education systems worldwide by measuring basic skills and knowledge of 15-year-old pupils, and their readiness for the challenges of adult life.

Approximately 600,000 pupils from 79 countries, including 37 OECD nations, completed the latest test, which focused primarily on their reading ability.

According to the survey, Thailand ranked 56th for maths, 66th for reading, and 52nd for sciences.

Thai pupils recorded a score of 393 points in reading, far below the OECD average of 487 points. In sciences, Thai students scored 426 points, much worse than the international average of 489. And in mathematics, Thais scored 419 points, well below the OECD average of 489 points.

Thailand’s reading performance in PISA 2018 was lower than in any previous assessment, and 16 points lower than in PISA 2015. In mathematics, by contrast, performance remained stable. Performance in science also appeared stable.

The study also found socio-economically advantaged students in Thailand outperformed disadvantaged students in reading by 69 points. Moreover, some 1% of advantaged students in Thailand -- but 0% of disadvantaged students -- were top performers in reading.

In terms of gender equality, Thai girls scored higher than boys in mathematics by 16 points. Across OECD countries, boys outperformed girls by five points. While girls slightly outperformed boys in science (by two points) on average across OECD countries, in Thailand girls outperformed boys in science by 20 points.

When asked about their desired professions, about one in five boys in Thailand want to work as an engineer or science professional at the age of 30, while one in seven girls want to do so. 

In addition, about three in seven high-performing girls expect to work in health-related professions, while one in five high-performing boys expect to do so. Only some 3% of boys and 1% of girls in Thailand expect to work in ICT (information and communications technology) -related professions.

While Thailand underperformed, other Asian school systems -- such as those in China, Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong -- scored highly in the PISA tests.

China was top in all subjects, but its score was calculated using results from just four of its provinces --Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang -- which are also some of its most affluent.

Singapore came in second place in all subjects, while Macau was ranked third in all three categories, followed by Hong Kong in fourth place for reading and mathematics. Estonia, another top performer, was fourth in science and fifth in reading.

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