Wednesday, April 09, 2014
English 15-year-olds beat peers from the U.S. and every European nation except Finland
English teenagers are among best at solving a practical problems
Nation's 15-year-olds beat peers from the U.S. and every European nation except Finland
By Laura Clark
Apr 1st 2014
English teenagers are among the best in Europe at solving practical problems, a league table revealed yesterday.
The nation’s 15-year-olds came 11th in the world in a new test – ahead of their peers in the United States and all other European countries except Finland.
The results are welcome news following England’s demotion from the top 20 nations in maths and reading. Could you pass the practical test?
However Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, which all have strong academic records, did better.
The rankings, based on a test taken by 85,000 pupils across 44 jurisdictions, show that English teenagers are better at solving real-life problems – such as adjusting a thermostat or selecting the cheapest rail tickets – than they are at tackling academic subjects.
England is one of only a handful of countries where teenagers are better at problem-solving than maths, reading and science.
Boys did slightly better than girls in the test - a reversal of the picture seen in national GCSE exams taken a year later.
Experts said the finding suggested GCSEs may be ‘unfair’ to boys.
The OECD, which produced the league table, insisted the difference in performance between boys and girls was not statistically significant.
The computer-based 40-minute test was the first of its kind run by the OECD, which regularly examines pupils’ performance in richer nations.
Pupils in England scored 517, against an OECD average of 500.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland didn’t take part.
The highest score was achieved by Singapore, with 562.
Outside East Asia, the highest marks were achieved by Canada, Australia and Finland, with England coming 11th.
‘In England, students perform significantly better, on average, in problem solving than students in other countries who show similar performance in mathematics, reading and science,’ the OECD report said.
‘This is particularly true among strong performers in mathematics, which suggests that these students, in particular, have access to learning opportunities that prepare them well for handling complex, real-life problems.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Our young people are strong in problem-solving. This is a skill we should build on.’