Speaking before the publication of the highly anticipated PISA results expected later today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have outlined the progress they believe is needed if Wales is to be in the top 20 countries by 2015.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests the knowledge and core skills of 15-year-olds as they near the end of their compulsory education. After Wales’ disappointing PISA scores in 2009, the Welsh Labour Government has repeatedly stated its target for Wales to be amongst the top 20 countries by 2015.
Michael Davidson, head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) division responsible for Pisa, said that Wales would need to make “progress” in December’s PISA scores if it were to meet its top 20 target. He added: “I personally haven’t done the sums of how many points you would need to increase to be in the top 20 by 2015…. you would have to do that sum and divide it by two.”
In 2009 Wales’ average score in Maths was 472. On the basis of the 2009 results, Wales would need to improve its score by 30 points to be in the top 20 countries. Therefore, Wales needs to score 487 points (+15) in December to be on track to meet the top 20 target.
In 2009 Wales’ average score in Reading was 476. On the basis of the 2009 results, Wales would need to improve its score by 21 points to be in the top 20 countries. Therefore, Wales needs to score 487 points (+11) in December to be on track to meet the top 20 target.
In 2009 Wales’ average score in Science was 496. On the basis of the 2009 results, Wales would need to improve its score by 12 points to be in the top 20 countries. Therefore, Wales needs to score 502 points (+6 ) in December to be on track to meet the top 20 target.
On that basis, the Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that Wales needs to score an average of 487 (+15) points in Maths, 487 (+11) points in Reading and 502 (+6 ) points in Science to be on course for the 2015 target.
Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education said:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have detailed the scores we expect to see if the Welsh Labour Government is to meet its targets.
“On the basis of what Mr. Davidson, the head of PISA, has said, we have worked out by how much Wales needs to increase its PISA scores to be on track to meet the Welsh Government’s top 20 target by 2015.
“Of course, these are very basic numbers and a lot depends on how other countries will perform. However, they give us general idea of what Wales needs to be aiming for. In fact, the chances are that many countries will also improve their scores, so Wales will likely need to be aiming even higher than the numbers we have produced.
“The Welsh Labour Government has sent out mixed messages on how it expects Wales to perform in tomorrow’s PISA scores. The First Minister has repeatedly stated that he expects to see improvement, yet his Education Minister has been playing down any chance of progress. It’s bizarre that two members of the same government can be saying such different things. Is the First Minister badly briefed or is he simply in denial?
“Wales’ last PISA results were a disaster. They were the clearest signpost yet that the Welsh Labour Government had completely failed our education system. They have now set themselves clear targets to make amends for their past mistakes.”