2012 PISA test: Israeli students receive low scores in problem solving skills

Test is international assessment measuring 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy.

April 1, 2014 21:17
2 minute read.
Lecture hall

Classroom 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Israel was ranked 34 out of 43 countries in problem solving according to OECD figures released Tuesday from a new segment of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 test.

The PISA test is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics and science literacy as well as measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as problem solving.

The chapter released, titled “Creative Problem Solving: Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems,” revealed that the average Israeli score stood at 454 points, falling 46 points below the OECD average of 500.

The results place Israel alongside countries such as Turkey, Hungary, Chile, Cyprus and Croatia.

Since 2000, every three years, 15-year-old students from randomly selected schools worldwide take tests in the key subjects.

Around 510,000 students in 65 economies took part in PISA 2012 representing some 28 million 15-year-olds globally.

This volume reported the results from the PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving, which was administered on computer, to about 85,000 students in 44 countries.

The findings indicated that across OECD countries, 92 percent of 15-year-olds are proficient at Level 1 or higher; however, in Israel, more than one in five students (21.9%) do not reach this level – making the most common level of proficiency below Level 1.

On the other hand, the results indicated that in Israel the proportion of top performers, those receiving a score of above 618 points standing at Level 5 or 6 is relatively large (8.8%) compared with countries of a similar average, though still lower than the OECD average of 11.4%.

The report also stated that in Israel there is “a strong polarization of results.”

The Education Ministry released findings Tuesday, expanding on the 2012 PISA test results, which showed that Hebrew speaking students scored 133 points higher than Arabic speaking students.

The average score of Hebrew speaking students stood at 483, just 17 points below the OECD average.

In comparison, the average score of Arabic speaking students stood at 350 points, 150 below the OECD average.

Furthermore, the findings reflected large disparities between students of high and low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Hebrew speaking students from high poor backgrounds received an average score of 532 points, compared to 432 points of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Among Arabic speaking students the gap was smaller, with students from well-off backgrounds scoring an average of 377 points, compared to the 341 points scored by students from poor families.

PISA 2012 tested students on a number of non-traditional topics, including the use of technological devices such as a remote control, orientation in unfamiliar spaces – one question asked students to buy a train ticket from an electronic machine – and regarding food or drink, such as using a drink machine.

According to the report, the contexts referred to situations that students may encounter outside of school as part of their everyday experience.

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