Czech Students Show Above Average Performance in PISA International Testing

In the Czech Republic, 430 schools took part in the survey. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) – Czech pupils have deteriorated in mathematics compared to 2018, but are still above the average in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests mathematics, science and reading literacy, according to the results presented by chief school inspector Tomas Zatloukal yesterday.

He pointed to big differences between pupils based on their social and economic background. The results were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools.

Mathematical literacy was the main domain of the PISA testing last year. As in the past, pupils from East Asian countries and regions were the most successful. In science as well as reading literacy, Czech children also have above average results in international comparisons.

Last year, 81 countries took part in the PISA testing. In the Czech Republic, 430 schools took part in the survey.

Czech pupils’ mathematical literacy result last year is the worst since 2003, when mathematical literacy was also the main domain. Over the period under review, the results of most participating countries have worsened.

Zatloukal noted that the average results varied from cycle to cycle, which was important for the interpretation of the data. For example, in reading literacy, Czech pupils had very similar results in 2015, 2018 and 2022, but in 2015 they were below average, in 2018 they were average, and in last year’s testing they were above the international average.

The PISA comparisons take place every three years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the testing in 2021 was postponed by one year.

The average result of most of the participating countries worsened from 2003 to 2022, with only six countries achieving comparable results in those years. As against 2003, the Czech Republic achieved the worst result, Zatloukal said; in 2003, Czech pupils scored 516 points on average, compared with 487 in 2022.

The decline in Czech students’ results since 2003 follows the decline in schoolchildren achieving at least a basic skills level. In 2003, 83% of them did so, in 2012, 79%, and in 2022, the proportion fell to 74%. The decline is also seen in the number of pupils achieving the top levels, as their proportion dropped from 39% in 2003 to 28% in 2022, Zatloukal noted.

He said the testing results were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures. Compared to 2018, the last testing cycle before the pandemic, all tested countries worsened in their results except for Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The results also show large disparities between students with different socio-economic backgrounds. In the Czech Republic, students who come from supportive families score excellent results, he pointed out.

“The impact of family background, its quality on the pupils’ education is really strong and it is actually the weakest point of our education system,” Zatloukal stressed.

Last year, there was a 116-point gap between the results of the most disadvantaged and most advantaged pupils, equivalent to three school years, he explained.

Education Minister Mikulas Bek (STAN) said the comparison was an important stimulus for a political debate on the tools to be used to systematically change the fundamental deficiency of the Czech education system. He said an open debate on the transformation of the content and forms of education is needed, as well as of the model of financing regional education.

The Czech Republic has long been one of the countries where the success of pupils depends more than other countries on their family background. Differences in pupils’ socio-economic backgrounds affect 22% of their results, according to PISA 2022, meaning a full fifth of a pupil’s performance compared to others is due to their family background, the fourth highest figure of any country included in the data.

The development of Czech pupils’ results since 2003 mainly follows the performance of pupils in primary schools, who make up about half of the pupils tested. Pupils in multi-year and four-year grammar schools contribute to the overall above-average results, and comprise about 20% of the tested pupils.

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