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Vietnamese Students Rank Above US, EU in Global Science Assessment

We already know that Vietnamese students are exceptionally good test takers, but local high school pupils are really putting the rest of the world’s 15-year-olds to shame.

In the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Vietnamese students ranked among the world’s best for their overall performance in science and math. PISA tests the math, science and reading skills of 540,000 students in 72 countries and is conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Specifically, Vietnamese students outperformed their counterparts in the United States and many European countries in science, ranking eighth overall, reports VnExpress. However, compared to Vietnam’s previous performance in 2012, the country’s students slipped in math and reading, coming in at 22nd and 32nd for these skills, respectively.

In 2012, when Vietnam first participated in the assessment, the country made international headlines as “a PISA surprise” after its students ranked 17th, eighth and 19th out of 65 countries in math, science and reading, respectively, according to The Diplomat. The results placed Vietnam well above that year’s OECD average.

However, despite its recent test score decline, Vietnam is still among a handful of countries and territories – including Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao and Singapore – in which “at least nine out of ten 15-year-old students master the basics that every student should know before leaving school”, according to the OECD’s website.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD director of education and skills, writes for BBC that the combination of committed leadership, a focused curriculum and investment in teachers has resulted in Vietnam’s remarkable performance, even with its status as a middle-income country.

Vietnam also respects its teachers and has expectations for their individual professional development, Schleicher continues, an attitude which helps maintain this level of rigor in the national curriculum.

Moving forward, Vietnam needs to create demand for higher skills in order to retain its well-educated talent, the OECD official writes, while making efforts to balance centralized leadership with a flexible, autonomous environment for individual schools to enhance schools’ accountability.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s regional neighbor Singapore topped all three categories of PISA 2015.

[Photo via Dong Nai Science and Technology Portal]

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