Iceland Gets Abysmal PISA Scores

Iceland Gets Abysmal PISA Scores

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Photos by
Julia Staples

Published December 7, 2016

Iceland scored dead last amongst western European countries, and the country has been on the wane in these test results since 2009.

The Economist has released the results of the sixth Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which attempts to assess the math, reading and science proficiency of 15-year-olds in 72 countries.

According to the results, Singapore was the highest-scoring country in the world, while the Dominican Republic was last. However, amongst western European countries, Iceland really stands out; albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Iceland was 39th on a global scale, but amongst western European countries, they scored dead last. They had their best result in maths, where they were only third to last; followed by second-to-last place in science; and last of all western European countries in reading.

PISA is not without its critics, many of whom point out that standardised testing paints an incomplete picture of the kind of education students are getting. However, PISA does raise some interesting data points:

“It points out that among poorer countries the amount of public spending per pupil is associated with higher test scores,” The Economist reports. “But in richer states that spend more than about $50,000 per pupil in total between 6 and 15 this link falls away. Poland and Denmark, have, in effect, the same average results in the science tests even though the latter spends about 50% more per pupil.”


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