Vietnamese students among top performers in developing East Asia and Pacific: report

By Minh Nga   March 17, 2018 | 04:39 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese students among top performers in developing East Asia and Pacific: report
Vietnamese high-school students in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

The average performance in Vietnam surpassed even some OECD member countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and France.

Vietnamese students are among the best academic performers in Southeast Asia, and even join their Chinese peers to surpass students from developed countries outside the region, according to a new report. 

Vietnam surpassed the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to stand only behind Singapore in terms of scores on PISA and TIMSS tests, the World Bank revealed in its latest report. 

In Asia Pacific, Vietnam and China scored above average and Singapore is the only Southeast Asian country placed among the top performers. 

The “Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific” report by the World Bank ranks students according to a weighted average of scores from tests that students have taken since 2000 for Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and since 2003 for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

A screen capture of a chart that compares PISA and TIMSS scores of Vietnamese students and those from other countries in East Asia and the Pacific from the World Banks Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific report.

A screen capture of a chart that compares PISA and TIMSS scores of Vietnamese students and those from other countries in East Asia and the Pacific from the World Bank's “Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific” report.

The average performance in Vietnam and China surpassed member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Canada and Spain.

Vietnam scored above the OECD average on all three sub scores in 2012. These scores indicate mastery of a full range of superior math abilities for complex problems, according to the report.

While Vietnam and China scored on average 509 and 514 in the PISA test between 2010 and 2015, the score was 497 for OECD members.

To strengthen its findings, the World Bank cited 2013 data from the Young Lives initiative, which closely follows cohorts from birth through secondary school.

It shows that when they start primary school, Vietnamese children have similar cognitive skills and abilities to peers in three comparator countries. By third grade, however, Vietnamese students are way ahead of their low-and middle-income peers in math. At ages 10 and 12, the average Vietnamese student performs better than all but the top students in Ethiopia, India and Peru.

PISA asseses students in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy, with science the major domain. TIMSS is a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world.

Last year, PISA ranked Vietnamese 15-year-olds eighth out of 72 economies in scientific performance. Vietnamese students also came 22nd in mathematics and 32nd in reading.

The scores puzzled foreign experts as PISA rankings usually correspond with the country’s GDP and prosperity, but Vietnam is an exception.

Correction: The previous version of this article misinterpreted the data to say Vietnamese students perform best academically in Asia Pacific, while in fact they are the best performers among developing economies in the region. 
 
 
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