With minus eighteen points, the Netherlands falls the hardest when reading, according to the latest Pisa report.
With minus eighteen points, the Netherlands falls the hardest when reading, according to the latest Pisa report.

Picture: Type tank

Dutch Pisa scores drop

The school performance of fifteen-year-olds in the Netherlands continues to decline. The reading skills of secondary school students in our country has dropped significantly below the average of the 37 rich countries participating in the triennial Pisa survey, the results of which were presented this morning.

“Very worrying”, says Henrik de Moel - daily director of secondary education at the AOb - the new Pisa results. "It is a shame that in a rich country like the Netherlands we fail to keep our education up to standard."

Dutch students achieved a score of 485 points in the latest Pisa study on reading skills. That is eighteen points lower than in 2015. This means that the Netherlands is now slightly below the average of the 37 rich countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In addition, this score is lower than ever since the first Pisa studies at the beginning of this century.

AObdirector Henrik de Moel: 'It is a shame that in a rich country like the Netherlands we are unable to keep up our education'

Loudest backward

The only consolation may be that more countries are giving up on reading, but that consolation is limited. The Netherlands loses the hardest reading with minus eighteen points. In addition, inequality in the Dutch education system is increasing. The decline is strongest in the group of weakest readers.

In the field of the natural sciences, the downward trend of recent decades has also continued: from a score above 520 in the first three reports to 503 now. The Dutch performance on this point is still above average.

At first glance, Dutch mathematics performance is a ray of hope. They show an increase from 512 in 2015 to 519 in 2018, but that score is still below all the results that the Netherlands achieved for 2015. 'When we take all scores into account, the long-term trend is clearly negative', the OECD in the country report on the Netherlands. 'Also in the field of mathematics and natural sciences.'

Oecd: 'Dutch trend clearly negative'

Source: Pisa report 2019 

Due to these figures, the Netherlands belongs to the sad group of seven countries, where, since participation in 2003, the school performance in all subjects has shown a continuous declining trend.

Average

Just over three quarters of secondary school students in the Netherlands (76 percent) are able to get the most important idea from a text of average level with an average length (level 2 in the tests). In the average OECD country, 77 percent of students succeed. In mathematics and natural sciences, the percentage of students attaining level 2 is still slightly above the OECD average.

The Netherlands belongs to the sad group where, since participation in 2003, the school performance in all subjects has been continuously decreasing

Education inequality

The educational performance of pupils with a lower socio-economic status is now just as behind in the Netherlands as in other OECD countries. Up to and including the previous Pisa report of 2015, the Netherlands still scored above average in terms of education equality.

The disadvantage of children with a migration background is now worrying in the Netherlands. On average, in OECD countries, 17 percent of children with a migration background score in the top quarter in terms of reading performance. In the Netherlands, only 9 percent of children with a migration background succeed. Schools with disadvantaged pupils in the Netherlands have to deal more often with a shortage of teachers and unqualified teachers than the OECD average.

The fact that educational inequality in the Netherlands is increasing is bitter, according to De Moel: “Highly educated parents and parents with a higher income now invest in extra lessons from the first year or even before that. For children of those parents the damage is not too bad, but for children of parents with a lower socio-economic status the problems are incalculable. ”

Worse

If the policy remains the same, the problems of the Dutch education system will only get worse in the coming years, predicts De Moel. “The XNUMX-year-olds who now show these mediocre scores started on average three years ago in secondary school. At the time, teacher shortages in primary education were not as severe as they are today. Also in physics, chemistry and mathematics - subjects directly related to the Pisa results - secondary school students will receive fewer lessons in the coming years, or they will be taught by unauthorized teachers. So we can expect that the problems in our education system will only get worse. Dutch is not yet a short-term subject, but it is not easy for schools to find good teachers for this subject. Here, too, the problems will increase, given the declining interest in teacher training and for studying Dutch at universities. ”

'If the policy remains the same, the problems of the Dutch education system will only get worse in the coming years'

Investment plan

A broad investment plan such as the AOb advocated, according to De Moel, is necessary to make education more attractive as a career. This requires not only an improvement in salaries, but also a reduction of the workload. “We know from previous OECD figures that Dutch teachers work an above-average number of hours and have fuller classes, in both primary and secondary education. In addition to the salary, we have to tackle the workload to entice more people to start this profession and to ensure that fewer people drop out. ”

This will also not immediately solve the problems in Dutch education, De Moel acknowledges. “Given the years of neglect, you cannot expect this problem to go away tomorrow, but doing nothing every day makes the problem worse. Our children are entitled to a good education and that stands and falls with our teachers. ”

Go to the OECD website for the reports. 
Read also: The Netherlands could use a Pisa shock

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