French falling behind in maths says Pisa global education survey

The Pisa report praises some proposed reforms to the school system
The Pisa report praises some proposed reforms to the school system Getty images/Eric Audras

A global education survey released today showed that France has dropped to an average position in international maths tests and needs to improve educational results for immigrants and the poor.


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesay released its Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) study focusing on maths, reading and science skills of students in 65 countries.

With a special emphasis on mathematics this year, the latest Pisa study tested some 510,000 15-year-olds last year.

Shanghaï students ranked first in maths, science and reading while the top five positions were all taken from students from elsewhere in Asia (Singapore, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and South Korea).

The performance of French students in maths has deteriorated, with a score down 16 points from 2003, France now ranks 25th in the index.

French students came 21st in reading skills, slightly above the average and 26th in science, a position among the average countries, unchanged since 2006

Eric Charbonnier of the OECD drew particular attention to the growing gap in performance between children from different socio economic backgrounds in France.

"In France, the correlation between socio economic background and performance is considerably more marked than in other OECD countries", the report reads.

"If  you come from a less privileged background, you have clearly less chance of succeeding today than in 2003" It goes on to note that "pupils from immigrant families are at least twice as likely to be counted among the children in difficulty."

France is also  one of the countries where discipline is the least respected according to the survey.

Charbonnier said that France is "in the process of putting together the pieces of the puzzle" and praised some of the reforms education minister Vincent Peillon is trying to implement, such as the highly controversial change in school hours and new training schemes for teachers.

According to the PISA study, students from wealthier backgrounds are about a year ahead of their less-advantaged peers.

Early starters also performed better, with students who attended pre-primary school at about a year ahead of those who did not.



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