If the educational jigsaw is generally bad, it is a disaster in terms of quality. This is evidenced by the International Pisa Tests, which assess proficiencies in the areas of reading, mathematics and science.
We still rank last among the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In reading we score 412 points, 391 in mathematics and 413 in science and the OECD averages are 487, 489 and 489, respectively.
The gravity of the situation is better seen by examining the ratings achieved. The test establishes 7 levels, 1 being the worst.
50% of Colombian students, more than twice the OECD average (23%), are at the worst reading levels, that is, they are not even able to “identify the main idea in a text of medium length” [y] They can think about the purpose and form of the texts.” Only 1% reached levels 5 and 6.
In science it is similar. Only 50% of Colombian students have reached Level 2 or higher in science (OECD 78%).
The other half cannot “recognize the correct explanation of familiar scientific phenomena”. The percentage of students who scored at levels 5 or above is “negligible”.
In mathematics it is worse. 65% at level 1 (OECD 24%).
These students are unable to “represent a simple situation mathematically, for example, converting prices into a different currency.”
Here too only 1% of students have reached level 5 or above.
40% of all Colombian students are at Level 1 in all three areas.
Besa confirms what I said in another column (education disaster): the differences in outcomes between “socioeconomic advantage” students are very clear and high.
In reading, the former outnumbers the disadvantaged by 86 points. And only one in ten disadvantaged students “managed to rank first in the quartile for performance in reading in Colombia.”
In Mathematics and Science “Social and economic status was a strong predictor of mathematics and science performance.”
Pisa shows that, in addition, top students come from a small number of schools. Everything is special.
In other words, it asserts that boys belonging to higher income families can attend private schools which provide them with better quality education than that of public schools.
By the way, according to Besa, there are more “accredited” teachers, 78%, in “disadvantaged schools” than in “favorite schools”, 62%.
Teachers with at least a master’s degree are similar in percentage terms in both types of schools. It seems that the quality problem in public schools could be in the teachers, but not in their academic titles.
It seems contradictory, but it is not. I will try to explain this in the next column.
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