Teens from some of China’s wealthiest regions are outperforming their peers in the world’s richest countries in reading, math and science, according to new results from a global education study.
The survey found that 15-year-old students from Beijing, Shanghai, and the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang ranked top for all three core subjects, achieving the highest level 4 rating.
China’s success in the survey is likely to come under question due to the fact that only four of the country’s wealthiest areas were surveyed — meaning that the results don’t accurately represent the tens of millions of students living in other parts of the country, especially rural areas.
In 2012, PISA’s results were heavily criticized for only including students in Shanghai as the sole representative of mainland China, a country of more than a billion people.
The next survey in 2015 was broadened to include four provinces and cities — Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangdong. China still performed well that year, but its scores were down across the board compared to the previous survey, when only Shanghai students were surveyed.
The Shanghai exam results have previously come under fire for shutting out the city’s migrant children and not being representative of the city’s total student population, which the OECD denies.
From the Irish Times:
If the Irish performance is encouraging, it is eclipsed by the inclusion this year of students in a number of Chinese provinces.
The extent to which these provinces are outperforming the rest of the world is breath-taking.
Pisa figures show 15-year-olds in the four provinces of China that participated in the study – Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang – outperformed by a large margin their peers from all of the other 78 participating education systems in maths and science.
In fact, the most disadvantaged 10 per cent of students in these four jurisdictions show better reading skills than those of the average student in OECD countries.
Not only that, but these same disadvantaged students show skills similar to the 10 per cent of most advantaged students in some OECD countries.
Analysts point out that these four provinces in eastern China are far from representing China as a whole,
However, it is worth noting that the size of each of them compares to that of a typical OECD country, and their combined populations amount to over 180 million.
As the authors of the Pisa study note, what makes their achievement even more remarkable is that the level of income of these four Chinese regions is well below the OECD average.
The quality of their schools today will influence the strength of their economies tomorrow.
From Sydney Morning Herald:
When he was at boarding school in China, Nicholas Zhang, 16, would wake up at 6.30am.
After breakfast and brushing his teeth, he would sit down for 45 minutes of maths and science revision. Classes ran from 8.30am to 6pm, with some small breaks, before three more hours of homework in the evening.
“We always needed to compare ourselves with other school students. It was really competitive,” he said.
Nicholas estimates he studied maths alone for 20 hours a week in China.
Since starting his exchange at Scotch College, Melbourne, at the start of this year, that has dropped to three or four hours.
Nicholas said he was enjoying having more of a balance between study and rest in Australia, including playing sport.
“In China the education is more to solve exams, but not actually to grow up with knowledge for life or for future work. That’s the main reason why,” he said.