Taiwan high school students top global math skills test
Taiwan high school students have better mathematical skills and greater scientific knowledge than students at the same level from other countries, according to the results of an international student assessment program aimed at testing how well students around the world are prepared for the challenges of a knowledge-based world in the future.
Lin Huan-hsiang, president of National Hualien University of Education who was responsible for the assessment program in Taiwan, attributed the good performance of Taiwan students to the success of a series of programs promoted by the government to reform Taiwan's nine-year compulsory education system.
Lin's project is part of the Program for International Student Assessment under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The survey is done once every three years among 15-year-old students from major countries around the world.
It was the first time Taiwan students had been invited to take part in the program to compete with students from other countries, including Finland, France, Belgium, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. Greece, and Switzerland.
A total of 8,815 Taiwanese students from junior and senior high schools, vocational schools, and junior colleges were chosen to take part in the test of their ability to comprehend and tackle mathematics, scientific, and reading programs.
Their test scores were later compared with the results of tests carried out among 400,000 students in 56 other countries.
Lin announced the results of the global survey at a press conference in the company of officials from the Ministry of Education and the National Science Council who helped with the project.
Taiwan students ranked No. 1 on mathematical knowledge and skills, followed by students from Finland, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Japan ranked tenth and Sweden, 21st, in this category.
The top performer in science was Finland, followed by Hong Kong and Canada. Taiwan ranked fourth in this category, outperforming Japan, which placed fifth, and South Korea which placed tenth.
Although Taiwan students ranked 16th in the area of reading, their test scores were much higher than average among students from the OECD member countries. However, Japanese and South Korean students placed higher in this category compared to Taiwanese students.
According to the survey, South Korea's strong reading performance improved even further between 2000 and 2006 by 31 points, raising the level of the top performers. Finland's reading performance also improved my 29 points over the same period, the results showed.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, who announced the survey results at a press conference in Tokyo, emphasized the importance of education to the development of people and societies.
"Effective and innovative education policies open enormous opportunities for individuals, Gurria said. "In the highly competitive globalized economy of today, quality education is one of the most valuable assets that an individual can have," he said.