PISA 2015: Estonia's basic education best in Europe

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PISA test in School.
PISA test in School. Photo: Martin Ilustrumm

Estonia outperforms the rest of Europe in the OECD's latest PISA survey, which evaluates the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems.

The top OECD countries on the latest PISA scoreboard published on Tuesday were Japan, Estonia, Finland and Canada, a press release by OECD says.

Around one in ten students across OECD countries, and one in four in Singapore, perform at the highest level in science. Across the OECD, more than one in five students falls short of baseline proficiency. Only in Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), Singapore and Vietnam do at least nine out of ten 15-year-old students master the basics that every student should know before leaving school.

Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Hong Kong and Macao achieved both high standards of excellence overall and equity in education outcomes, according to the press release.

When it comes to natural sciences, or biology, geography, physics and chemistry, Estonian students are among the best globally, raking first in Europe and third in the world. Compared with similar tests conducted earlier, Estonia had a higher percentage of top performers able to solve very difficult tasks, 13.5 percent, compared with the OECD average of 8 percent. Estonia had the lowest share of students with very low skills among countries of Europe – less than half the average for the other countries surveyed, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research said.

"So good a result in international comparison shows that Estonian teachers and schools continue to do a very good job. We have based the development of our education on the right principles, as the effect from the changes can be seen only in 10-15 years," Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps said. "I'm pleased to note that despite the more austere financial conditions we have secured for ourselves the status of top performer in education and have managed to keep it."

In mathematics, Estonian 15-year-olds were in a tie for the number two spot in Europe with their Swiss peers and ninth worldwide. Almost 90 percent of young people in Estonia have at least basic math skills, which puts Estonia among the five top performers for that criterion.

Estonian students' functional reading skills are third best in Europe and sixth best in the world.

The OECD's PISA 2015 tested around 540,000 15-year-old students in 72 countries and economies on science, reading, maths and collaborative problem-solving. The main focus was on science, an increasingly important part of today's economy and society.