Brussels, 8 December 2010
Commission welcomes findings of international student survey (PISA) – European results improve
The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, has welcomed the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide survey on the level of performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. Compiled every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the data show that, on average, European results slightly improved compared to the 2006 survey, especially as regards the share of pupils with low reading competences. However, challenges remain for a number of Member States. The emergence of new global centres of excellence, in particular in Asia, highlights the fact that Europe must continue to improve if it is to maintain its status as a knowledge society.
Commissioner Vassiliou said: "PISA is an important resource for the European Union because it supports our joint efforts with Member States to improve quality of education to become a society of smart and sustainable development. PISA is a useful tool that identifies the most recent trends in education by assessing our performance compared with that of the most successful countries worldwide. By exposing weaknesses in education systems and illustrating what could work, the survey can help us to raise our game in Europe. It is clear that by investing in education and making better use of resources, the best performers are securing their future economic growth. This is why education is at the heart of the Commission's Europe 2020 strategy."
The Commission's initial assessment of the PISA findings confirms that while Europe has beacons of excellence, such as Finland, much remains to be done to ensure that every child can be successful and have the possibility of high educational achievement. Given the emergence of new centres of excellence in Asia, Europe must do more to realise its full learning potential.
PISA shows encouraging results for several Member States which have improved their scores in certain areas substantially since 2006, including Poland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria.
The best performers, such as Finland, underline that policies which promote inclusive education could also have positive effect in educational achievement. The findings also suggest that investing in high quality curricula and well trained educators can significantly improve the performance of our schools.
The results, however, also highlight a continuing problem: the gap between the best performing education systems, and between the best performing schools and pupils within countries, remains too big. While the share of low achievers in literacy has decreased slightly across the EU, it continues to be a major concern. The gap in performance between above-average and below-average pupils in reading is the equivalent of more than one year in school. The share of low performers in reading in EU countries ranges from less than 10 percent to more than 40 percent.
To find out more:
PISA findings in full
European Commission: Education and training