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School science, maths and reading in crisis - comment on PISA report

"Australia's performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in the science, reading and mathematics skills of 15 year olds is nothing short of a crisis," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today in response to the release by ACER of the latest report PISA 2015: A first look at Australia's results.

"The PISA results show that not only is Australia falling behind relative to other countries, but that the achievement of our students in the vital areas of scientific, mathematic and reading literacy is in absolute decline. This is a very disturbing report in the wake of the recent poor performance in maths and science outlined in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released only last week," Mr Willox said.

"We know that the economy increasingly needs people with strength in STEM skills. Both the TIMSS and the PISA reports paint an exceedingly bleak picture of our student achievements in maths and science. This represents a major problem in finding the skills we need for our future workforce.

"The results from this PISA report highlight the need for urgent action in school reform. There is no greater challenge in education today than to turn these student performance results around. All schooling sectors need to be focused on this as the most important priority," Mr Willox said.

Media Enquiries:  Tony Melville 0419 190347  

BACKGROUND   The PISA results show Australia’s performance in scientific literacy, the major area assessed in 2015, has declined significantly – by the equivalent of a half year of schooling. Between 2006 and 2015 there has been a 3 per cent decrease in the proportion of high performers and a 5 per cent increase in the proportion of low performers in scientific literacy. There is also a significant decline in reading literacy between 2009 and 2015 – again by the equivalent of a half year of schooling. In mathematics Australia’s performance declined by a third of a year of schooling between 2012 and 2015. Singapore is the best performed country in PISA and the results show that Australian students are two and a third years behind them in mathematical literacy, one and a half years behind in scientific literacy and one year behind in reading literacy. In comparison to other countries Australia ranks equal 10th in science, equal 12th in reading and equal 20th in mathematics.  

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