Basic skills for students in free-fall across the western world after Covid lockdowns

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has released its latest survey of global learning standards, the Programme for International Student Assessment, revealing that since the test was conducted in 2018, scores have gone down across the board.

Among the 700,000 15-year-olds tested in over 80 countries, one in four performed poorly in math, reading, and science. There were some outliers, but for the most part the results showed that students are not at the same level as they were pre-pandemic.

As the OCED reports, since 2018, reading and math performance fell an average of 10 and 15 percent, respectively. A number of European nations, including Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Poland, saw a more significant drop in the latter.

Countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea outperformed the pack in math and science, while students from Ireland and Japan were better than average in the reading portion of the test.

Singapore came out on top, outpacing the rest in every subject. The OECD suggested this put the nation's students three to five years ahead.

While scores have, on average, been declining since around 2012, the period between 2018 and now has seen proficiency rates drop at unprecedented rates.

"COVID probably played some role but I would not overrate it," OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher said during a press conference, per Reuters.

"There are underlying structural factors and they are much more likely to be permanent features of our education systems that policymakers should really take seriously."

The report claimed that there was "no clear difference in performance trends between education systems with limited school closures ... and systems that experienced longer lasting school closures."

One major cause of poor performance was the use of electronic devices in class, with those who said they succumbed to digital distractions in "most or every maths class" scoring 15 percent lower than those who did not.

According to Reuters, the survey was conducted in 2022 among the 38 OECD member states and 44 non-member nations.

Image: Title: basic skills


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