Korea’s performance dropped slightly in a test that aims to assess the quality of secondary education around the world.
Although Korea ranked near the top among OECD member nations in terms of academic achievement, the country fared poorly in terms of students’ interest in and enjoyment of their subjects.
The OECD on Tuesday announced the results of its 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 countries including 35 OECD members.
Korean students got 516 points in science, 517 pints in reading and 524 points in math, compared to the OECD means of 493, 493 and 490 points respectively. That was down two points in science, 11 points in reading and three points in math from 2012.
This year Canada topped the OECD in reading with 527 points, while Japan ranked first in both math and science with 532 and 538 points. If non-OECD member nations are included, Singapore ranked first in all areas.
Korea’s scores dropped because the proportion of low-scoring students increased. The proportion ranked in the bottom group of the science evaluation rose from 6.7 percent in 2012 to 14.4 percent last year, in reading from 7.6 percent to 13.5 percent, and in math from 9.1 percent to 15.4 percent.
Korean girls scored higher than boys — 41 points higher in reading and seven and 10 points in math and science. As recently as 2012 they only outdid boys in reading.
But PISA also assesses motivation for learning science, and Korea got a poor -0.14 points. The OECD’s mean index was 0.02. Korean youngsters also ranked below the OECD average when it comes to the influence a family’s financial status had on a student’s achievement.