Polish schoolchildren are the third best in Europe at maths and science, and fourth best at reading comprehension, according to the latest PISA international rankings. In all three categories, Poland has improved since the last report in 2015.
PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) was launched in 2000 by the OECD as a comparative measure of not only the knowledge of 15-year-olds around the world, but also of their competencies. It assesses problem-solving skills, capacity for analysis and interpretation of facts.
In reading comprehension, Polish teenagers were ranked tenth in the world, up from 13th in 2015. In Europe they were behind only Estonia, Finland and Ireland, and globally they trailed Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao (which are assessed separately from China), and South Korea.
In both science and maths, Poland was eleventh, a significant improvement from 22nd and 17th places respectively in 2015.
In all three rankings, Polish schoolchildren finished ahead of their counterparts in the United States, Germany, Denmark, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The latest PISA rankings are out. You can download the @OECDEduSkills database from the @FT
Let the usual round of head scratching begin! Why do Estonia and Canada do so much better than the Rest of the West. https://t.co/CsbS8QxQGo pic.twitter.com/IdxiXyGX1m
— Adam Tooze (@adam_tooze) December 3, 2019
The latest data come from tests administered in 2018, before Polish middle schools (gimnazja) were abolished by the Law and Justice (PiS) government in a controversial reform of the education system. Despite PiS’s criticism of the old middle schools, the PISA findings confirm that they did not prevent a significant increase in the general level of education of Polish students.
Monika Prończuk is the deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She was previously the Nico Colchester fellow at the Financial Times, acting FT Poland correspondent, and journalist at OKO.press, an independent fact-checking media outlet. Her articles have appeared in Quartz, Financial Times, Politico, Gazeta Wyborcza and Tygodnik Powszechny.