How Did English Schools and Pupils Really Perform in the 1995 International Comparisons in Mathematics?

Publication date: 1 Jul 1997 | Publication type: National Institute Economic Review | Journal: National Institute Economic Review

The recently published results of mathematics tests set to representative samples of pupils in over forty countries provide an important opportunity to re-assess priorities for reforms in English schooling. Five Western European countries--Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland are suggested in this critical study as providing appropriate standards for England's immediate aims. Attainments there are shown to be about a year ahead of England for average pupils at age 14; the gap is larger for those of below-average attainment, suggesting some structural bias in English schooling. The gap is particularly evident in those arithmetical fundamentals which need to be mastered by all school-leavers (rather than in advanced aspects suitable only for mathematical specialists); and that gap has its clear origins at the primary level of schooling.

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