Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How to Help Them Succeed
OECD. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
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Far too many students around the world are trapped in a vicious circle of poor performance and demotivation that leads only to more bad marks and further disengagement from school. Worse, poor performance at school has long-term consequences, both for the individual and for society as a whole. Students who perform poorly at age 15 face a high risk of dropping out of school altogether. When a large share of the population lacks basic skills, a country’s long-term economic growth is severely compromised. Results from PISA 2012 show that more than one in four 15-year-old students in OECD countries did not attain a baseline level of proficiency in at least one of the three core subjects PISA assesses: reading, mathematics and science. In absolute numbers, this means that about 13 million 15-year-old students in the 64 countries and economies that participated in PISA 2012 were low performers in at least one subject. Reducing the number of low-performing students is not only a goal in its own right but also an effective way to improve an education system’s overall performance – and equity, since low performers are disproportionately from socio-economically disadvantaged families. Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, the Rusian Federation, Tunisia and Turkey, for example, improved their performance in mathematics between 2003 and 2012 by reducing the share of low performers in this subject. What do these countries have in common? Not very much; as a group, they are about as socio-economically and culturally diverse as can be. But therein lies the lesson: all countries can improve their students’ performance, given the right policies and the will to implement them.