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Spain 'bottom of class' in maths and reading

Alex Dunham · 8 Oct 2013, 10:21

Published: 08 Oct 2013 10:21 GMT+02:00

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A new study by the Programme for International Student Assessment has highlighted Spaniards’ shortcomings in basic skills like reading and mathematics.

The international study, carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), showed Spaniards scored 21 points less for reading skills than the average for the 23 countries profiled, all of which qualify as developed nations.

That also puts Spain 19 points behind the average for the European Union.

Italians were the only adults who received a lower mark than Spaniards.

They did, however, beat Spain in the numbers game, as Spaniards came bottom of the table in the OECD maths assessment.

Spain’s 246 points for maths put the Iberian nation 23 points behind the OECD average and trailing 22 points behind other EU member states.

The gap between Spain and the PISA study’s high scorers (Finland, Holland, Japan, Sweden and Australia) is so wide that their high-school participants received similar or higher scores than Spanish undergrads.

The US, by contrast, also scored very poorly for reading comprehension, coming only one place above the Spaniards in 21st place. For maths the US came in 19th place.

The UK came in in 18th spot for reading and 16th for the mathematics part of the OECD test. 

The main conclusions Spaniards can draw from the international body’s educational study is that the average Spanish adult is a mediocre student at reading and maths, scoring on average two out of five in both fields.

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To put that into context, they can undertake basic mathematical calculations but have trouble understanding their electricity bills or comparing hotel prices, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported.

That also means they have trouble reaching conclusions or summarizing what they've read in more complex readings like Cervantes’s El Quijote.

Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that 30 percent of Spanish adults scored 1 or even below, enabling them to understand only simple texts and basic calculations.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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