The OECD’s recently completed PISA Survey shows that Chilean and Mexican students are most proficient in reading in Latin America, however the region as a whole still lags behind industrialized countries.
The survey, based on two-hour tests of a half million students in more than 70 economies, also tested mathematics and science. The results for 65 economies were released on Tuesday.
Korea and Finland top the OECD’s survey of reading literacy among 15-year olds, which for the first time tested students’ ability to manage digital information. The next strongest performances were from Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
Some OECD countries saw strong gains in reading literacy, most notably Chile, Israel and Poland, but also Portugal, Korea, Hungary and Germany. In mathematics, Mexico, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Germany saw rapid improvements. In science, Turkey, Portugal, Korea, Italy, Norway, the US and Poland showed the biggest improvements.
Chile’s results in particular were strongest in Latin America, with a mean score of 449 on the survey. The percentage of low performing students in the country dropped by more than 17 points between 2000 and 2009.
However in terms of mean reading scores on the survey, LatAm countries were clustered around the same benchmark range of high 300’s and low 400’s. Scores are as follows: Uruguay 426), Mexico (425), Colombia (413), Brazil (412) and Argentina (398).
Compared to the highest performing countries, Latin America misses the mark by an average 120 points – the equivalent of more than two school years.
“Better educational outcomes are a strong predictor for future economic growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “While national income and educational achievement are still related, PISA shows that two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results. This shows that an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly-educated countries is now out of date.”