The Korea Herald


Korea tops OECD in math proficiency

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 3, 2013 - 20:12

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South Korean students ranked the highest in mathematics, and scored highly in reading and science proficiency tests among the nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to a report released Tuesday from the organization.

According to the report, Korea received the highest average score of 554 in mathematics among the 34 OECD countries, followed by that of Japan with 536 and Switzerland with 531.

Korea also ranked second in reading table with 536, only two points behind top-placed Japan with 538. Japan also topped in science proficiency with 547 points, followed by Finland and Estonia with 545 and 541 respectively. Korea came fourth in science with 538 points, still well above the OECD average score of 501.

The performance of Korean students proves the country’s established education system and also strong zeal for education, according to the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation.

However, in terms of an index measuring motivation and enjoyment of studying mathematics, Korean students scored well below the OECD average. And Korea is one of the countries showing the widest achievement gaps between top and bottom students and schools, according to the state-run agency.

“The results indicate that Korea needs more investment to keep the higher performance level, but at the same time to narrow the learning gaps between students,” said Song Mi-young, research and PISA project manager of KICE.

“We need to develop more diversified education polices to improve the situation,” she added.

Since 2000, the OECD has been evaluating the knowledge and skills of the world’s 15-year-olds through its Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA test.

More than 510,000 students in 65 economies, including 31 non-OECD nations, took part in the latest test, which covered math, reading and science. From Korea, a total of 5,201 students participated from 156 schools.

In the 2009 PISA assessments, Korea’s 15-year-olds ranked second in reading, fourth in mathematics and sixth in science among OECD countries.

By Oh Kyu-wook (