Scaling education heights in Pisa

Scaling education heights in Pisa

News that Singapore students emerged among the top in an international test called Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) was met with little fanfare.

After all, the Republic routinely tops such educational assessments, including TIMSS and PIRLS, which stand for Trends in International Maths and Science Study and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

But the Pisa test is different, and Singapore's achievement is a big deal.

In Britain, the media described Pisa, the international benchmarking test in mathematics, science and reading, as the "World Cup for education".

In America, Tuesday was declared "Pisa Day" to mark the day Pisa results were released. This is despite American students' dismal performance, lagging far behind their 15-year-old peers from top-performing places like Singapore.

All over the world, from the United States to Europe and Australia, educators and policymakers held conferences and "webinars" to pore over the latest findings of the study and draw comparisons across countries.

How did Singapore fare in Pisa for tests taken last year, results of which were released this week?

The short answer is that it did very well, and improved on its showing from the last time in 2009, when it already emerged in the top five. The 2009 Pisa ranked Singapore students fourth in science and fifth in reading.

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