Romania has long prided itself in producing excellent math students, who go on to excel at universities around the world.
No longer it seems.
An international study that measures 15-year-olds’ ability in math, reading and science around the world has uncovered data about learning levels bound to cause concern. Across the country, math levels are in steep decline.
Worryingly, functional illiteracy has also increased among 15-year-olds in the last three years from 39% to 44%. Science and reading scores are down too.
“It’s shocking,” Mircea Miclea, the director of the Center for Applied Cognitive Psychology at Babes-Bolyai University Cluj told edupedu.ro. “The reason is the poor teaching performance of teachers,” he added.
“Performance criteria need to be established for every discipline and salaries should be paid according to performance,” said Miclea, who was education minister from 2004 to 2005.
The study carried out by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was released Tuesday.
But Education Minister Monica said „We don’t necessarily need to be worried about this assessment from the PISA tests. The focus on these international tests are not necessarily on what pupils know, but how they apply their knowledge in concrete life situations.”
If Romanian students are performing poorly, the overall trend for standards in math, science and reading around the world is about the same as in 2015, the last time they were tested, according to the study.
Romanian students notched up 430 points for math in the 2018 PISA study, which is a 14-point decline from the last results in 2015, and 15 points down from 2012. It’s well below the average European score of 489.
In math, 47% of the students failed to reach level 2 meaning they are unable to complete simple tasks, such as comparing the total distance of two alternative routes or convert prices from Romanian lei to other currencies.
Overall, 76% of students in the OECD countries reached level 2 in mathematics.
Regionally, Poland, North Macedonia and Albania saw an improvement in maths standards. Romania was one of three countries, along with Malta and Chinese Taipei where standards declined.
In reading, Romanian students scored 428 points, which is six less than in 2015 and ten points lower than the score they obtained in 2011.
The testing said 41% of Romanian students were unable to reach level 2 in reading, which means that they can read a text but can’t explain or understand what the text is about.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) examines what students know in reading, mathematics and science, and what they can do with what they know.
In Science, Romania scored 426 points, down by 9 points compared to 2015 and by 13 points compared to 2012.
Romania’s results in the PISA 2018 testing are lower than the average of OECD countries in all three areas.