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Education: Standards

Volume 467: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what evidence he has assessed from international surveys of improvements in educational standards in England since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (163539)

International comparisons studies play an important role in benchmarking against other countries and as pointers to what we might learn from other school systems. They can also provide useful supplementary information about attainment, although they are not necessarily measuring the same content and processes as national tests.

The most recent findings come from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) which was conducted in 2003. TIMSS found that the performance of 10-year-olds in England had improved significantly from 1995 to 2003 in both science and mathematics. However, the performance of 14-year-olds in England, as reported in TIMSS, had not increased significantly between 1995 and 1999 and 1999 and 2003, for either science or mathematics.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), focusing on the mathematics performance of 15-year-olds, was also carried out in 2003 but concluded that data for the UK could not be considered valid either for international comparisons or for constructing trends in performance because response rates from schools and pupils did not meet its strict participation rate requirements. PISA was conducted again in 2006, this time with a focus on science, and findings from the study will be published on 4 December 2007.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) was first carried out in 2001 and examined the reading performance of 10-year-olds. The average score for England was 553. Findings from the most recent round of PIRLS, conducted in 2006, will be published on 28 November 2007.