Singapore claimed the top spot in 2015 for the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) but slipped to second place in 2018.
The Pisa is conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The study is done every three years.
The Pisa is an international benchmarking study which tests 15-year-olds and their skills in mathematics, science, and reading comprehension.
China, which did not place in the top five in 2015, now ranks highest in global scores across all three subjects.
The study covered 79 countries with over 600,000 students who participated.
6,676 Singaporean teens from 153 public and 13 private secondary schools were randomly selected to take the test.
Results of the 2018 Pisa showed that Singaporean students have significantly better literacy skills than in 2015.
Students scored higher than the OECD average in reading processes such as evaluating content, assessing credibility and differentiating between fact and opinion.
Ministry of Education deputy director-general Sng Chern Wei said, “We are pretty happy with the 2018 Pisa findings because it shows that our students are equipped with the critical skills and the resilience to cope with the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In particular, our students have maintained a very strong performance in reading, math and science in the 2018 study.”
The MOE uses results of the Pisa exam to develop education policies and programmes for study areas that need to be improved.
The Pisa study revealed a decline in Singaporean teens who view reading as an enjoyable hobby, from 54 percent in 2009 to 49 percent in 2018. Forty-six percent of Singaporean teens reported that they only read if it was required of them.
Jason Tan of the National Institute of Education attributed the decline in reading as a hobby to the increase in the use of smartphones and social media among the youth./TISG