News Centre

5 Dec 2007

Programme for International Student Assessment: Accomplishment and Challenges of Hong Kong Students

5 Dec 2007

In the recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2006), Hong Kong 15-year-old students perform well compared with their international counterparts. They rank second in Science, remain the top in Mathematics, and advance to the third in Reading (Chinese) among 57 participating countries and regions worldwide (Figure 1).

Researchers examine equality in education, in particular, how students’ socio-economic background (SES), gender and immigrant status affect their competencies. It is found that the impact of students’ SES including occupation and education level of their parents has relatively small association with student performance (Figure 2). Yet significant gender difference is demonstrated in both mathematics and reading performances. Boys outperform girls by 16 points in mathematics and girls outperform boys by 31 points in reading (Figure 3). Immigrant students who were not born in Hong Kong performed significantly poorer than students born locally (Figure 4).

Various student and parent factors that might have impact on students’ literacy performance are also examined. Regarding student factors, self-belief and motivation are important factors associated with student’s performance. High achievers tend to have higher self-concept and self-efficacy. They also show higher interest and enjoyment in learning and motivated for better career prospect (Figure 5). Findings also suggest that students who report stronger sense of general or personal values in science, awareness of environmental issues, and responsibility for sustainable development tend to perform better in scientific literacy (Figure 6).

Regarding parent factors, findings suggest that parents’ perception of school quality, and their involvement with the child’s education at home and in school have moderate positive association with students’ science performance. Students with parents more satisfied with the quality of school learning tend to perform better. For parents reported more arrangement of science activities when their children were 10 years old, their children’s science performance at age 15 tends to be better. Moreover, the greater is the level of parental involvement in the child’s learning at home (such as communicating with their children more often on various topics – discussing books, films, social issues, television programmes and school work), the higher is their children’s performance. The extent parents’ volunteered or participated in the school’s activities also has positive relationship with their children’s performance. However, students with parents communicated most with the school appear to have the poorest performance. One possible explanation is that teacher-parent contact is often initiated by incidents related to students’ academic or behavioral problems (Figure 7).

Other policy issues such as the impact of high academic segregation between schools (Figure 8), educational expenditure and language policy are all important concerns and should be further studied.

PowerPoint presentation at the press conference can be downloaded from: