Singapore ranked high in PISA 2009 survey

According to the latest PISA results, Singapore is ranked 5th overall in terms of reading capabilities (see executive summary in PDF). Singapore also scored high in mathematics and science.

“Better educational outcomes are a strong predictor for future economic growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a. “While national income and educational achievement are still related, PISA shows that two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results. This shows that an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly-educated countries is now out of date.”

Wealth and level of education does not come hand in hand. You still have to work for it.

The best school systems were the most equitable – students do well regardless of their socio-economic background. But schools that select students based on ability early show the greatest differences in performance by socio-economic background.

I’m a bit cautious of this one. Skill honing at an early stage assumes that whatever a student is good at has already manifested itself. It’s a reasonable assumption. It’s only dangerous if the skill specialisation is to the exclusion of all else (or even “many” else). It gets worse if the student don’t like his “special” ability, and also has aptitude in another area that he likes. But the student is already shuffled into Box A for the first skill.

What do you think?