PISA Report 2021 UK math: What to learn from PISA 2015 and 2018

The eighth cycle of PISA is going to take place in 2021, and one of the most-awaited things from this programme is PISA report 2021 UK math. OECD conducts PISA every three years from 2000. England, Ireland, Wales etc. have participated in all its cycles since its inception. One thing which has been constant in all these years is low ranking in math. This shows that the 15-year-olds’ skills in mathematics are quite underground than the other similar age students across the globe. PISA tests students on three accounts: science, mathematics and reading. In the upcoming cycle, the focus area is going to be mathematics.

Performance of UK 15-year-olds in PISA

In the last two cycles of this programme, the UK did not score anything near the “highest rank” in math. Owing to the pace of improvement in PISA report 2015 UK math and PISA report 2018 UK math, one can’t really foresee a noticeable growth in students’ understanding of math and its practical implications. Thus, they are not expected to get a higher score in PISA report 2021 UK math, if the preparations will continue to be the same.

In order to increase the rankings in math specifically, it is required to put in some extra effort. But ! in which directions? What are the practices which can improve the student’s ability to do math? Before moving to the answer, it is important to have a glance at the detailed reports of 2015 and 2018. It will give a clear perspective on the current status and the pace of improvement. After knowing how UK students performed in math in the last two cycles, it would be easy to ascertain the low points. Once they are identified, it will become even easier to work towards betterment.

PISA Report 2015: UK Students’ Math, Science and Reading not as Good as their Peers

PISA 2015 results were not so exciting for the UK. In the education survey, UK was ranked 15 for science, up from 21st position, but math rankings dropped one place to 27th and UK students got ranked at number 22 in reading, moving one place up.

The organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD) said that English 15-year-olds performed averagely when it comes to science and reading, but possess poor math skills compared to other countries.

Singapore was ranked one in all three subjects among all the 72 countries that were surveyed. Talking about European countries, Estonia, Finland and Norway have performed better than the UK in math.  Poland and Slovenia are also ranked above the UK when it comes to reading.

PISA report 2015 UK highlighted that there was a “relatively large gap” between the top and bottom performers in British schools in subjects such as science and math. It further explains that there is an eight-year schooling gap between two groups of fifteen-year-olds.

PISA Report 2015 highlighted gender gap

The report has also revealed that there was a little gender gap in science. However, boys won the battle with girls by fetching 12 points higher in math while girls have beaten boys when it comes to reading. OECD have found the students who were born and raised in the UK achieved higher grades compared to their immigrant peers.

This report further says that white students have also performed better than the black and Asian students and white kids from low-income backgrounds could not beat the white kids from high-income backgrounds.

However, the PISA report also praised science teaching standards in the UK and said that England has some of the finest young scientists in the world. According to the OECD, England does an expenditure of around $114,900 on a student from age of six to fifteen. It is higher compared to the average cumulative spending across OECD countries ($90,300) and more than the $75,300 across all 72 nations that were included in the study.

UK students earned 509 in science, lower than last year’s 514, but this score is above the OECD average of 493. This way the UK was matching footsteps with Germany and Netherlands and had slightly better rankings than Switzerland, Ireland and Belgium.

Countries like Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Chinese Taipei and Finland were ranked above England.

Reasons for low performance in math by UK students

The overall PISA 2015 results clearly showed that student behaviour is proportional to low performance in maths. 

In order to uplift the performance teachers and school leaders should work hard. They can highlight the group of students likely to perform at the lower levels. After grouping them, they can give specialized attention to these pupils. 

It has been recorded that students who came under low performers were:

  • Students eligible for free school meals
  • Girls
  • Students with special educational needs 
  • Students from a black background

By looking at the most likely low performers it is clear that they either come from a not-so-privileged environment or have some extra needs. The conventional schooling pattern is not encouraging to them nor it is helping them to expand their borders. Thus, their behaviour towards mathematics studies becomes one of the prime causes of low performance in 2015.

One of the best ways to make math easy and interesting for students is to provide help with mathematics assignments.

Now, let’s move on to see the performance of UK students in PISA 2018

PISA Report 2018 UK Math: Achievement of 15- year-olds in England: PISA 2018 results

Overall mathematics performance of students

The average OECD score is 489 and England got a significantly higher score of 504 in PISA 2018. The overall performance of England in mathematics improved to a great length. Earlier than this, the performance was stable from 2006 to 2015. 

Mathematics performance in comparison to other countries 

The number of countries who outperformed England went down from 19 to 12 in 2018. The students from England performed similarly to several countries which held a better record in PISA 2015. The overall composition of the top-performing countries remained quite similar to the previous cycles of PISA. They were dominated by south-east and east Asian countries.

There are seven countries that can be categorized as the best performers in 2018. They are all east Asian ones, namely: (BS-J-Z )China, Singapore, Macao(China), Hong Kong (China), Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea. 

Talking about European countries, Estonia scored surprisingly better in 2018. It left a number of good-performing countries behind. After Estonia, the Netherlands performed well too.

The gap between the highest and lowest performers

The score of lower achievers has improved to a significant level in comparison to PISA 2015. This improvement has lessened the gap between the highest and lowest scorers since 2015. Some of the leading performer countries had a wide spread of gap while some had a narrow gap.

 Proficiency levels of students in the UK

The positive fact is that England had a higher proportion of students working at the highest proficiency levels set in PISA, i.e, Level 5 and 6. A low proportion has been spotted below Level 2. The percentage of students who stood below Level 2 has positively decreased by 3 percentage points since 2015. On the other hand, the performance of students achieving Level 5 and 6 increased. However, the difference is not something to get happy about as the percentage of increase is not too high.

PISA report reflected the gender gap 

The performance of boys considerably improved in mathematics since 2015. It gives hope that they can welcome an even better PISA Report 2021 UK math. However, the improvement in girl students didn’t change to a statistically significant level. Boys clearly outperform girls in math. This was the same case for the OECD average.

Reasons for improvement in PISA report 2018 Math

The bright part is that English pupils saw a vital improvement in math performance. They scored better than in 2015 and 2009. Also, this performance is better than in 2006 and 2012 too. In the PISA cycles of 2006 and 2013 mathematics was a major domain

The UK saw some better ranks in Maths which is hopeful for a good PISA report 2021 UK math as well. An overall score of England in math showed a significant increase. The average score grew higher from 493 in 2015 to 504 in 2018.

The results say that boys performed significantly better than girls. And, the statistically noticeable rise is attributed to them.

Another major reason has to be the improvement in lower achievers at a faster rate. In comparison to the higher achievers, they grew at a fast pace.

UK uplifts in the ranking, but no “big signs” of overall progress in students

There are separate data available for Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. However, In PISA records  UK participants are shown as one country and they got their ranks accordingly.

The main PISA report marked improvement in the position of the UK in PISA tables. It went through an upward transition, which goes like this:

  • Reading: 22nd to 14th
  • Maths: 27th to 18th
  • Science: 15th to 14th

The higher authorities of OECD claimed it as a “positive signal”. However, they refused to consider it as a big sign of progress.

As per the officials, it would take a long time for the United States to combat the highest-performing economies. They suggested that teachers should be given more support and time for collaboration and research for success in the long run.

But were they happy in school?

Apart from the academic test results, PISA 2018 raised questions about the wellbeing of teenagers in the UK.

The programme also involves a survey of participants about their own wellbeing and attitudes to learning. Sadly, the results of the said surveys got us some trends to worry about.

The wellbeing scores of pupils tarnish their academic success. It is important to help students who feel they are under great pressure. In a society which stakes often seem very high to them, they require some counselling and a student-friendly environment. Generally, students feel burdened with 

It is a daunting fact that English students are not happy with their lives. They tend to have more negative feelings about school, studies and their own self than students coming from other countries. Their negativity levels surpass all pupils across OECD countries. This surely calls for a “serious investigation”.

Integrated Design of Science, Math, Reading and Creative Thinking in PISA 2021 

If you are a student who is going to participate in PISA, or a teacher or a parent who needs to help their teens for PISA, you must go through the changes proposed for PISA 2021. It would be a wise choice to go through PISA 2021 syllabus in detail as well. 

Mainly, OECD has proposed that the cognitive instrument design of 2021 will focus on the extension of the MST to both mathematics and reading.

Integrated Design: Mathematics

Mathematics is going to be a major domain in 2021. This is the item pool from which MST would be assembled. It will undergo a slight change. This means that along with the existing pattern there will be a new trend and items. It would be quite similar to the design for “Reading” in 2018 

Integrated Design: Science

Science section will not see any major changes. The nonadaptive forms of 2018 will remain intact. 

Integrated Design:  Reading

In PISA 2021, Reading would be categorized as a minor domain. The MST design of 2018 will be used again, but, with a reduction of 25% in its item pool. 

Integrated Design: Creative Thinking

In order to get a better PISA report 2021 UK you have to focus on the domain of creative thinking. OECD has finally proposed that it will concentrate more on the creative thinking abilities of participants. In this innovative domain, there will be nonadaptive instruments. They will be based on new items completely.

The majority of students who will participate in PISA 2021 will implement a computer-based survey. However, a set of participants will continue PISA  as a paper-based survey. For the latter one, the new paper-based design will use instruments which can measure trends in science, reading and mathematics-based on existing materials from the previous cycles of 2015 and 2018. The paper-based assessments are commonly called PBAs. 

You can also consider the there will be no newly-developed items. Thus, it will be easier to score better in PISA 2021 Report UK math by following previous patterns. The instruments that are expected to be used will not cover the innovative domains. They will also not involve any interactive features of the tasks which may apply to the computer-based survey.

What to learn from the performance of the UK in previous cycles of PISA 

In PISA 2018 reading was the major domain. Mathematics was a minor one in this cycle. However, it is going to be a major domain again in 2021. So, students can easily up their overall rank by striving for a good PISA report 2021 UK math. The content of math in 2018 is explained in the OECD 2012 PISA mathematics framework. It was developed back in 2012 by OECD for PISA. Now, it will go through some updates for PISA 2021.

The reports of PISA 2015 and 2018 clearly shows that pupils are more likely to have negative feelings about their academics and life. Before moving to any changes in study patterns, it is highly important to improve the environment for students. 

It is required to pay attention to the low levels of wellbeing and the constant peer pressure faced by teenagers in the UK. 

Studying in school should be student-friendly. For this, teachers and parents must build a healthy mindset in students. They can be introduced to smart study methods, like assignment help, brainstorming sessions etc. The focus should come to creating a student-friendly atmosphere. This is the most-needed change to improve their performance.

Other than this, the higher authorities should bring some methods to narrow down the gap between rich and poor students. The governments should encourage rigorous primary school assessments. This will motivate more students to study the core academic subjects.

Most importantly, it’s time for England to invest in teachers. They are the real heroes of the present study set up. The government should take steps like employing more teachers, giving them all a decent pay, training and support. This way, the UK can ensure the best start in life for every child and obviously a good PISA Report 2021 UK math.