Japanese students achieve 3rd place in OECD assessment of reading proficiency

In a recent international learning assessment test, Japanese students ranked third in their ability to use reading skills to solve real-life problems, a significant improvement from their 15th place ranking in 2018. The test, which included 15-year-olds from 81 countries and economies, revealed that Singapore claimed the top spot. This marked an impressive advancement for Japan in the field of education.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted the computer-based test, where Japan also showed progress in science and mathematics, moving to second place from fifth and fifth place from sixth, respectively. Once again, Singapore dominated these categories, securing the first position.

Amid the global pandemic, Japanese students experienced shorter school closures compared to their counterparts in other countries. This likely played a role in the country’s improved performance. Furthermore, the implementation of exploratory learning and interactive teaching methods has been recognized as effective in enhancing students’ academic abilities.

Although Japanese students outperformed the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science, Singapore remained the top performer in all three categories. Notably, China, which had previously led the rankings, did not participate in the recent survey due to the impact of the pandemic.

The assessment featured various tasks, such as using spreadsheet software to compare forest area data across different countries and evaluating the credibility of a company website. Approximately 6,000 Japanese students from 183 high schools took part in the test, which is now in its eighth iteration since its inception in 2000. Efforts to enhance reading comprehension have been a focal point for educators, especially following a decline in this area during the 2003 assessment.

While Japan’s performance in reading did not reach the heights of the 2012 test, the OECD recognized a stable long-term trend in the overall performance of Japanese students. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology attributed this positive trajectory to factors such as an increased emphasis on discussion-based classes and students’ growing familiarity with computer-based testing due to the rise of digitalization in schools.

Overall, the latest version of the Program for International Student Assessment drew participation from around 690,000 students representing 37 OECD countries and 44 non-member countries and economies, with a specific focus on mathematics. The survey shed light on the varying educational landscapes across the globe and provided valuable insights for further improvements.



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