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  • STEM Leadership Alliance - Philippines

PISA Results an Opportunity to Accelerate Progress in Education Quality

SLA-PH released a statement on PISA 2022 Results.

On Tuesday, December 5, the OECD released the results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA. Participated in by 81 countries and economies around the world including the Philippines, the PISA tests a representative sample of 15-year-old students on their ability to use reading, mathematics, and science to answer or solve complex questions or problems. PISA 2022 focused on mathematics, while reading and science were minor areas.

The Philippines had a mean score of 355 for mathematics, 347 for reading, and 356 for science. With the tests administered at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines’ improved mean scores--+2 in mathematics and +7 in reading--from the 2018 PISA showed resilience. The country’s mean score for science declined by one point, lower than the overall decline in OECD countries. OECD countries saw their mean scores drop by an average of 15, 10, and two points, respectively, for mathematics, reading and science.

The stark reality, however, is that the Philippine scores represent low levels of proficiency for our 15-year-old learners. The scores are located along a PISA scale from low to high proficiency, with level 1c at the lowest level of proficiency, and on to levels 1b, 1a, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 as the highest proficiency level. The scale level of a learner score, say it falls at 1a, means that he or she is likely to be able to answer questions up to 1a level of difficulty, but unlikely to be able to correctly answer questions with difficulty levels 2 and higher. The Philippine mean score in mathematics is at level 1b, in reading at level 1a, and at level 1a for science.

We cannot settle for stagnant or low levels of improvement in performance. We should focus our initiatives and reforms towards increased proficiency levels that will enable our learners to meet the challenges of today and the future.

The PISA data, both for the 2018 and the 2022 rounds, along with complementary data available to the Department of Education, should be explored and rigorously analyzed to inform interventions at the national down to the classroom levels. Beyond the general data, the PISA results offer granular information that will make analysis more meaningful. Some schools and even regions perform better than others. National Capital Region schools, for example, had average mean score of 393, 403, and 404 for mathematics, reading and science, respectively, significantly higher than the national average and close to the national average of Thailand. What factors account for this better performance? How can this be further improved, and how can the poor performers catch up within a shortened timeframe?

Given the international proficiency standards set by PISA, we also believe that it is crucial that we strengthen STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to accelerate the advance of education quality. Strengthening STEM education should start at the early grades, and not introduced only in the latter stages of K to 12. While science and mathematics are standard subjects, what sets STEM education apart is the integration of these subjects and their deployment in applied learning approaches and teaching methods. STEM education not only equips students with a solid foundation in core disciplines, critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation skills but also instills inquiry-based assessments that allow students to understand concepts and encourage knowledge application.

Now more than ever, the Alliance urges to take the following measures to enhance STEM Education in the country in response to the poor performance of Filipino students to large scale assessments:

  • Validate the outcomes drawn from the performance of NCR schools that exhibited better results for PISA and extrapolate best practices from these findings to disseminate and incorporate into the instructional methodologies and strategies of other partner and member schools;

  • Sustain the National STEMBee program, an online STEM quiz bee for Grade 7 in collaboration with the Department of Education. The program is designed to enhance STEM competencies of Filipino students and provide teachers and learners with exposure to PISA like questions through a highly cost effective after-school initiative, as piloted in 2021;

  • Explore the application of Artificial Intelligence for teachers’ training and learners’ tutorials as integral component of the PISA interventions;

  • Analyze the 2022 Pisa Data that correlates with the learners' well-being that will serve as a strategic foundation in formulating evidence-based interventions to safeguard their mental health and support academic performance.

We laud the Department of Education for continuing to participate in PISA, and we hope that we will again participate in the next and future rounds. Our aspirations to accelerate progress is not founded on country comparisons, but on ensuring that our education system is able to empower our learners to ably navigate the complexities of the digital era and the rapidly changing social, economic, and technological environment, thus becoming positive contributors in the country’s development and international competitiveness.

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