With China’s debut in international standardised testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a exam.
American officials and Europeans involved in administering the test in about 65 countries acknowledged that the scores from Shanghai — with scores of modern universities that is a magnet for the best students in the country — are by no means representative of all of China.
About 5,100 15-year-olds in Shanghai were chosen as a representative cross-section of students in that city. In the United States, a similar number of students from across the country were selected as a representative sample for the test.
Experts said the stellar academic performance of students in Shanghai was noteworthy, and another sign of China’s rapid modernisation.
The results also appeared to reflect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.
The test, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), was given to students by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that includes the world’s major industrial powers.