Hong Kong has been ranked fourth for reading and mathematics in the 2018 PISA tests, a global study that compares the academic performance of 15-year-olds across many countries.
The city state has slipped from its second-place position in 2015 to be ranked fourth in two of the three subjects covered in the study; it has kept its ninth-place ranking for science.
The OECD’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 2018 tested around 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries and economies on reading, science and mathematics; the study is done every three years. The main focus in 2018 was on reading, with most students doing the test on computers.
Hong Kong is ranked behind mainland China, Singapore and Macau for reading, maths and science. Although Hong Kong's reading score has dropped marginally from 527 to 524, the score is still significantly above the OECD average of 487. Likewise, its science score of 517 and mathematics score of 551 are both above the OECD averages of 489 for both.
In Hong Kong, more than 6,000 students from 174 schools were randomly selected to join the PISA test. The sample came from all public secondary schools and randomly-selected private schools, including international schools.
Reflecting on the 2018 PISA findings, a spokesman for Hong Kong’s Education Bureau (EDB) said, "Among the 79 countries/economies participating in the study, Hong Kong's 15-year-old students ranked fourth in both mother tongue reading and mathematical literacy, and ninth in scientific literacy.
Their performance in these three areas was significantly higher than the international level. The achievements can be attributed to the efforts of schools and teachers, as well as the support of various stakeholders in providing quality education.
"It is also encouraging that Hong Kong students' socio-economic status seems to have less effect on their performance as compared with other participating countries/economies. In general, the education system of Hong Kong has done well in providing an education opportunity with high quality and equity for all students on the whole, which in turn facilitates social mobility."