The Slovenia Times

Slovenian Students Continue to Do Well in Maths and Science, Reading Bigger Challenge



The three-yearly PISA study for 2012 found that Slovenian secondary school students had above average skills in mathematics and science, where they ranked 21st among the 65 countries and regions included. In reading, however, Slovenian students mustered only 38th place.

Overall, the scores by Slovenian students were similar to those from three years ago in all three categories, national PISA coordinator Mojca Štraus told the press in Ljubljana as part of the international launch of the report on Tuesday.

At 481 points, the score of Slovenian students in reading proficiency remained below the OECD average of 496 points. Slovenia had lost over 20 points in this index three years ago and failed to make up ground in the past three years.

The latest study found that 79% of Slovenian high school students achieve the fundamental level of reading proficiency, which is 3 percentage points below the OECD average.

While reading proficiency remains a problem, Slovenian secondary school children continue to preform above average in mathematics and science, where they achieved a score of 501 (average across the test was 494) and 514 (average 496), respectively.

In mathematics and in science, Slovenia performed on par with countries such as Austria, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand and the Czech Republic, but in reading Slovenia's scores were closer to those of Lithuania, Greece, Turkey and Russia.

Štraus said the overall score was mostly encouraging but also an indicator of where the country will have to pay extra attention in the future. She said a number of measures were implemented in the area of improving reading proficiency after the 2009 PISA study, but that these are expected to bring results for the next review period.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is the biggest international study of schooling standards and as such has been compared to the educational equivalent of the World Cup.

This parallel was also drawn by Education Minister Jernej Pikalo, who stressed that "if this was football, Slovenia would always be playing at the World Cup". Despite what he sees as the relatively positive results, he said that important lessons had to be drawn and measures taken to deal with the main problems.

"This study puts up a mirror to all those who help shape the education system," he said, stressing that a "thorough analysis of the results in cooperation with experts" will follow.

Overall, the 2012 PISA study found that Asian countries had cemented their advantage over the West in educational achievements, leading the way in all three fields of proficiency.

With China not included in the study as a whole but through its most developed regions, Shanghai stole the spotlight by taking top place in each of the three fields.

Mathematics proficiency was put in the focus of the latest cycle of the study, accounting for two-thirds of all test questions. The report highlights that mathematics proficiency "is a strong predictor of positive outcomes for young adults, influencing their ability to participate in post-secondary education and their expected future earnings".

Ranking behind Shanghai in this field were Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macau and Japan. Lichtenstein (8th), Switzerland (9th) and the Netherlands (10th) were the only European countries in the top ten in mathematics proficiency.

The study ascribes the distinct advantage of Asia in the results to the well-developed culture of learning and focus on teacher training. "For example in Hong Kong, teachers have up to 200 hours of additional hours of training a year," Pikalo highlighted one of the recipes to success.

Meanwhile, Poland has been singled out as one of the brightest cases in Europe, managing to improve its score across all three areas. Interestingly, it was also one of the countries where students indicated that they were the least happy with school, joining a list of numerous countries where achievement is high but student happiness low.

The study included a total of 510,000 students from 65 countries, including 8,405 from Slovenia.


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