Mexico slides to last place in education among developed nations

There're improvements in math and reading but country still lags behind

Mexico slides to last place in education among developed nationsServicios San Diego Red
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PARIS.- Despite seeing improvement throughout these last ten years, Mexico continues to struggle to catch up with other countries on education, according to the latest results from the triennial worldwide survey of education quality, PISA 2012( Program for International Student Assessment) even placing last among all member nations of the OECD.

It placed 53 in the list of 65 overall countries and economies (not all entrants into the test were countries, some like Shanghai were mere cities) worse when compared to its place in the 2009 PISA test when it placed 48.

As described by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, the 2011 PISA Test "assessed the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science (with a focus on mathematics) in 65 countries and economies. Around 510 000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months participated in the assessment, representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally." Chinese cities (but not China itself) and Asian countries did really well.

Latin American countries, did not. Mexico has improved and has constantly been on a upward trend since 2003, a fact that was noted and praised it the 2012 report, but "the magnitude of the challenge continues to be huge."

A basic, competent level in math is referred to as Level 2, and 55 percent of Mexican students do not reach it, while the OECD average is 23 percent. It averaged 413 points in math, well bellow the 494 OECD medium.

Forty-one percent of Mexican students aren't competent in basic level reading either. Here they achieved only 424 points against the 496 OECD average.

And in science, 47 percent don't reach basic competency levels as they average only 415 points, compared with the 501 international standard.

Baja California itself was also rated (Mexico submitted each of its states to the test as well) and it placed 13 nationally with a score of 415 points in math. Not good.

Mexico falls behind in all three categories and other metrics. Only 70 percent of 15 year-olds have some level of school, while the OECD average is 90 percent.

None of these categories have particularly good news for Mexican students, although some competitive comfort can be found in the fact that they still placed higher on all three categories than Montenegro, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Albania, Brazil, Argentina, Tunisia, Jordan, Colombia, Qatar, Indonesia and Peru.

The study also revealed a harrowing piece of data about just how long it would take for Mexico to reach the same level of competence in math as the best rated countries. "At the current rate of improvement, Mexico would need 25 years for it to reach the average current levels of the OECD in math and more than 65 years in reading," warns the study. Mexico might be improving, but at a turtle pace. Added to this issue are other, like problems with motivation (half feel anxious about facing math problems), are very late for school, suffer from grave economic inequality compared to other countries that greatly affects their learning opportunities, among other factors.

There is also little hope for improvement in private schools, something the study tries to point out, saying that all private schools do is increase the lack of attention towards the public school system and proves that market solutions to education offer little respite for education problems.

There is some hope, though. As already mentioned, Mexico has actually improved relative to its results in 2003 in math and reading (science is still an issue). In math, it has a 3.1 annualized growth rate.

"Of the 39 countries and economies that participated both in the 2003 and 2012 PISA tests, Mexico, Turkey and Germany improved their performance in math and on their levels of equality in education during the same period," said the report. So, not all of it is bad.

Aguascalientes was the state with the highest grade in math in Mexico, with 437 points, followed by Nuevo Leon with 436. Baja California placed 13th with 415 points.

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