PISA Shows Huge Gap in Korean Kids' Math Scores

  • By Choi Eun-kyung

    December 06, 2023 11:44

    Korean students showed a huge disparity in math test scores in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of 690,000 teenage students in 81 countries.
    PISA is conducted every three years to assess the math, reading and science abilities of students around the world, though the latest assessment was delayed by a year due to lockdown.
    Korean students ranked third to seventh place in math, up from fifth to ninth place in the 2018 test. But while the proportion of top-ranked students increased from 21.4 percent to 22.9 percent, the proportion of bottom-ranked students also increased from 15 percent to 16.2 percent.
    The distribution ratio stood at a whopping 98.1 percent in Korean schools, way higher than the OECD average of 68.3 percent.
    That meant Korea ranked second only to Malta in the dramatic disparity in scores between the best and worst students. The reason may be that children of well-off parents are drilled by crammers in skills that public schools themselves simply cannot handle any more.
    Korean students ranked second to 12th place in reading, and second to ninth place in science, up from sixth to 11th place and sixth to 10th. Their rankings in these fields edged up for the first time in 10 years.
    Until 2006, Korean students ranked at the top in reading and first to fourth place in math, but their abilities started to decline in the following assessment in 2009.
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