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Taiwan high school students rank 3rd globally in math

PISA tests find growing competence in Taiwan students in math, reading, science

Taiwan high school students are rising in international rankings. (CNA photo)

Taiwan high school students are rising in international rankings. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan placed third in the world in math, according to an international assessment test given to 15-year-old high school students across 81 countries.

Taiwan not only did well in math but also ranked fourth in science and fifth in reading. Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exams are typically offered in local languages, with 90 different language versions available, per Liberty Times.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) who sponsored the exam says the purpose is to better understand educational trends and to track how individual countries are performing. Taiwanese students have made significant progress in all three areas of the PISA exam when compared to previous performances, while average scores have declined.

One explanation for this trend is that the COVID pandemic has disrupted education programs around the world, while Taiwan was relatively less affected, according to National Taiwan Normal University Honorary Lifetime National Chair professor Tsai Chin-chung (蔡今中). Another reason may be the disproportionate number of outstanding students in Taiwan, Tsai said.

"There are more students with high performance in our country than in the previous testing period, and the proportion is higher than the OECD average,” said Tsai. Students in rural areas have also made progress in various subjects, sometimes surpassing students in urban areas.

Tsai believes that this shows that equality of educational opportunities in Taiwan is developing in a positive direction, ranking only behind that of Japan, South Korea, and Lithuania.

Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said evaluations of Taiwanese students have shown significant progress in recent years. Pan believes the progress is attributed to curriculum changes implemented in 2019, putting domestic students on the right path toward educational excellence.