Hong Kong secondary school pupils have fared better in science in the latest global benchmark assessments compared with the last study but have done worse in reading, dropping out of the top ten for the first time.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests the competency of 15-year-olds in three disciplines – mathematics, science and reading – every three years, although the latest assessment was pushed back a year due to Covid.
Almost 6,000 teenagers in Hong Kong took part in tests between May and July last year.
Out of the 81 places participating, the SAR jumped two spots to rank seventh in science, according to the latest assessment results released on Tuesday.
Hong Kong pupils had a collective score of 520 points in science, up from 517 in 2018.
But the city slipped from fourth to 11th place in reading, with scores dropping from 524 to 500 points.
In maths, Hong Kong students remain in fourth place with 540 points.
Chinese University professor Hau Kit-tai, who is the national project manager of Hong Kong Pisa, said the decline in reading performance was likely due to more emphasis being put on the two other disciplines during Covid.
“If [pupils] had to choose one thing that they would do more and choose another thing they would do less, then likely they would work harder on maths and science, because after an hour of study, you would see that you really understand additional things, understand new things," he said.
"Whereas in reading, if you spend an hour on reading, probably you won't see obvious improvement in your languages."
The Education Bureau, in response, attributed the drop in reading performance to the suspension of face-to-face learning. A spokesperson said authorities will work with researchers to draw up targeted measures and boost support for educators.
According to the study, 36 percent of Hong Kong pupils reported facing academic challenges at least once a week when secondary schools were maintaining half-day sessions, a figure that is slightly above the global average.
But schools in the SAR were exceptional in supporting continuity of student learning during Covid, as three quarters of students had engaged in daily online classes.
Hong Kong remained in second place in educational equity globally, the study noted, with 17 percent of socio-economically disadvantaged students ranked in the top quartile in maths.
The territory also saw immigrant pupils performing on par with their local counterparts across all assessments.
Last updated: 2023-12-05 HKT 21:05