Vietnam beats its Southeast Asian peers, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China in terms of scores on PISA and TIMSS tests, the World Bank revealed in its latest report.
|Vietnamese high-school students in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The “Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific” report by the World Bank ranks students according to a weighted average of scores from tests that students have taken since 2000 for Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and since 2003 for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
The average performance in Vietnam and China surpassed member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, that includes the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada and Spain.
Vietnam scored above the OECD average on all three sub scores in 2012. These scores indicate mastery of a full range of superior math abilities for complex problems, according to the report.
|A screen capture of a chart that compares PISA and TIMSS scores of Vietnamese students and those in other countries in East Asia and Pacific from the World Bank's “Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific” report.
To strengthen its findings, the World Bank cited 2013 data from the Young Lives initiative, which closely follows cohorts from birth through secondary school.
It show that when they start primary school, Vietnamese children have cognitive skills and abilities that are similar to peers in three comparator countries. By third grade, however, Vietnamese students are way ahead of their low- and middle-income peers in math. At ages 10 and 12, the average Vietnamese student performs better than all but the top students in Ethiopia, India, and Peru.
PISA asseses students in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy, with science the major domain. TIMSS is a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world.
Last year, PISA ranked Vietnamese 15-year-olds eighth out of 72 economies in science performance. Vietnamese students also came 22nd in mathematics and 32nd in reading.
The scores puzzled foreign experts as PISA rankings usually correspond with the country’s GDP and prosperity, but Vietnam has been an exceptional case.