Students in Qatar have once again underperformed in the latest Program for International Assessment (PISA) figures, which were released earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which Qatar is a partner country.
The rankings, which have been around since 2000, try to assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds through a test that is given every three years. The 2012 PISA was taken in 65 countries, measuring 510,000 15-year-olds who are considered representative of 28 million students.
The test focuses on math, reading, science and problem-solving, also added a financial literacy component this year.
Students in Qatar ranked below average in all three of the main categories, but still also showed improvement since first being assessed in 2006.
In math, some 70 percent of students who took the test were ranked low achievers. Qatar clocked a mean score of 376 in this category, while the global average was 494 – though that’s a nine-point improvement from last year, according to the report.
In reading, Qatar came in at 388, with an average score of 496, up 2 points. Science was 384, compared to an average of 501 – up 5.4 points from last time.
The UAE, in comparison, had a mean math score of 434, and globally ranked 47th. Qatar was 62nd.
Once again, East Asian countries dominated in the rankings, with students from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, among others, scoring the highest in math.
Wealth not a factor
PISA also sought to compare how GDP per capita correlates with test performance. In Qatar, which has one of the world’s wealthiest countries per capita, there was no real correlation, and it joined Canada, Jordan, Finland and the UAE in terms of the impact of socio-economic status on performance being small.
According to the report, that means:
“When performance differences across the socio-economic spectrum are small and students often perform better (or worse) than expected, given their socio-economic status, one of the main policy goals is to improve performance across the board.
In these cases, universal policies tend to be most effective. These types of policies include changing curricula or instructional systems and/or improving the quality of the teaching staff, e.g. by requiring more qualifications to earn a teaching license, providing incentives for high-achieving students to enter the profession, increasing salaries to make the profession more attractive and to retain more teachers, and/or offering incentives for teachers to engage in in-service teacher-training programmes.”
Other interesting points from the report include:
- Girls outperformed boys in mathematics in only five countries: Qatar, Jordna, Thailand, Malaysia and Iceland.
- Being late to school or skipping classes negatively affect student performance. In Qatar, 29 percent of students reported skipping classes or days of school, higher than the 25 percent average.
- A student’s sense of belonging can also affect performance, but in Qatar, many of the kids who took the test appeared to be well-adjusted. Some 67 percent of students here disagreed they felt like an outsider (left out of things) at school, and 72 percent said they disagreed that they felt lonely at school. Nearly 80 percent said they felt happy at school, slightly below the average.
Here’s the full report: