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International study shows Hong Kong students' continued outstanding performance in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy

The Education Bureau (EDB) today (December 6) said it was pleased to learn that Hong Kong students have performed very well in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 and maintained their outstanding achievements.

The PISA is a three-year international study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that assesses the mother tongue reading, mathematical and scientific literacy of 15-year-old students.

"Among the 72 countries or regions participating in the study, Hong Kong's 15-year-old students ranked second in both mother tongue reading and mathematical literacy, and ninth in scientific literacy. Their performance in these three areas was significantly higher than the international level. The achievements were the results of the concerted efforts of schools and teachers, as well as the support of various stakeholders in providing quality education," a spokesman for the EDB said.

In mother tongue reading literacy, Hong Kong ranked second in PISA 2015, the same as in the previous round (i.e. PISA 2012). The sustained good performance of Hong Kong students in reading is believed to have benefitted from the promotion of "Reading to Learn", one of the four key tasks implemented under the curriculum reform, the reform of the Chinese Language Curriculum, as well as continuous teacher professional development/training, learning and teaching resources packages on reading provided over the years, which have helped teachers, including school librarians, to employ appropriate reading strategies and reading activities to enhance the reading interests and abilities of their students.

In mathematical literacy, Hong Kong's ranking progressed from third in PISA 2012 to second in PISA 2015. The good performance of Hong Kong students in mathematics is believed to have benefitted from the emphasis to develop mathematics knowledge through project work and exploratory activities. The design of the Mathematics Curriculum enabled teachers to provide students with learning opportunities to apply their mathematics knowledge in real-life situations and to nurture their positive attitudes in the learning of mathematics.

In scientific literacy, Hong Kong's ranking declined from second in PISA 2012 to ninth in PISA 2015. Statistically, the score of Hong Kong (523) was significantly above the OECD average of 493. The good performance of Hong Kong students in science is believed to have benefitted from the Science curriculum, which emphasised promotion of scientific literacy and generic skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This encouraged teachers to adopt appropriate classroom strategies to enhance students' understanding of science knowledge and the development of process skills through scientific investigation, as well as to strengthen students' understanding of the interconnection between science, technology, society and the environment. The assessment results also showed that the majority of Hong Kong students were able to achieve a baseline level of science proficiency, which would enable them to participate fully in a modern society.

"It is encouraging that students' socio-economic status seems to have less effect on their performance as compared with other participating countries or regions. In other words, Hong Kong has done well in providing education opportunity with high quality and equity for all students, which in turn facilitates social mobility. The assessment results reaffirmed the quality of our education system.

"Moreover, the difference in student performance between schools is getting smaller. This trend suggests that the basic education of Hong Kong is heading towards quality education with equality.

"Our education aims to provide broadened knowledge to facilitate students' learning and nurture high-level thinking, generic skills and positive attitudes to achieve the development of the whole person. Our primary concern in curriculum design and delivery is the interest of students and their learning outcomes. We shall draw reference from, among others, the findings of international studies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our students so as to enhance their learning. Our focus is therefore not on the international ranking of our students' performance but rather on conducting regular reviews for the purpose of maintaining high quality in education," the spokesman said.

The results of Hong Kong students in different studies also indicated that they achieved an outstanding performance in mathematics and science. For instance, in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 as announced last week, the performance in mathematics of Hong Kong Primary 4 (P4) students progressed from third in TIMSS 2011 (i.e. the previous round) to second in TIMSS 2015. At Secondary 2 (S2), Hong Kong's performance was comparable to that of TIMSS 2011, with an unchanged ranking at fourth. In science, the ranking of Hong Kong P4 students rose from ninth in TIMSS 2011 to fifth in TIMSS 2015, while that of S2 students rose from eighth to sixth.

Background information and key statistics of PISA 2015 are at the Annex.

06.12.2016


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