A very, very quick Look at PISA 2015


Ireland:  A lot to be proud of. Our science and maths scores are pretty static but there is significant improvement in reading. We’re ranked 19 in the world in Science. It looks to me like we’re 5 in Reading and 17 in Maths. Our average score over Maths, Science and Reading is better than the UK’s. (I know, I know, I’m falling into the habit of obsessing about the UK and whether we’re better than them!)

However, if I am interpreting the results right, we only have an average number of top performers in our classes, something that is broadly consistent with the recent TIMSS results. The worry might be that our best students are not being challenged enough.

Estonia’s results are fantastic – I predict hordes of delegations to that country to find their secret!

Finland is going backwards in everything (as many anticipated based on a perceived move towards more ‘progressive’ forms of teaching)

Canada is going backwards (but not hugely) in Maths (as many anticipated based on their emphasis on inquiry-driven approaches to maths teaching. Irish curriculum reformers take note.).

Denmark is boringly consistent, even more so than Belgium.

The Swedish decline continues.

New Zealand and Australia are going consistently backwards.

France, Spain and Italy really should be doing a lot better.

Albania, Georgia and Moldova are making very significant progress across all subjects. I wonder what’s going on in that part of the world?

CABA (which is Buenos Aires I believe) is making extraordinary strides forward.

Israel, the so –called ‘Start-Up Nation’, isn’t all that hot at science but is making some progress in maths.

Qatar is improving enormously. I wonder if the World Cup has anything to do with it.


Now, back to marking lab reports!


About Greg Foley

A lecturer in Biotechnology in Dublin City University for more than 25 years. Trained as a Chemical Engineer in UCD (BE and PhD) and Cornell (MS). Does research on analysis and design of membrane filtration systems.
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