In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s computer test of 15-year-olds in 79 countries and economies, Japan fell to 15th from eighth in the 2015 survey in reading proficiency.
Japan slipped to sixth from fifth in mathematics and from second to fifth in science.
China, represented by students in Beijing and Shanghai, and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, occupied top spots in all three categories.
With respect to reading comprehension, Asian countries and economies grabbed the top four spots with Singapore, Macao, and Hong Kong ranking second, third, and fourth.
In analyzing the results of Japanese students’ reading test, a Japanese education ministry official said improvement is needed in their ability to express ideas and to distinguish between facts and opinions, even though the country’s rankings remain relatively high among the participating states and economies.
“Among OECD countries, Japanese students particularly lag behind in access to digital devices in classrooms, and they are not familiarized with texts presented in forms different from books and periodicals,” the official of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said.
The OECD assessed that the long-term trend of Japanese students’ overall performance was stable.
About 6,100 Japanese students from 183 public and private schools participated in the test, consisting of multiple-choice questions and questions which required them to construct their own answers.
Overall, some 600,000 randomly selected students from 37 OECD countries and 42 non-member countries and economies took part in the latest version of the Program for International Student Assessment, focused on reading comprehension.