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Dubai: Dubai private schools have ranked 19th out of 79 countries in the global PISA standardised tests, which were announced on Tuesday, putting them inside the top 20 and on course to meet 2021 UAE National Agenda targets.

Overall. the UAE was ranked 46th in reading, scoring 432 points (a drop 1.8), it also scored 434 in science sliding by 3.1.

Significant gains were made in maths however, scoring 435, with a rise of 7.5 points since 2015, the year the last PISA tests were held.

What is PISA?

PISA, or Programme for International Student Assessment, is an international assessment held every three years by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It tests 15-year-old students’ abilities to apply mathematics, science and reading knowledge to real-life situations.

On Wednesday, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said Dubai private schools, when regarded as a group in itself, had achieved the National Agenda target.

Above average

Students at private schools in Dubai are performing above the international – and UAE – average in mathematics, science and reading. The latest results of the global test show that students have scored 501, 500, and 501 for mathematics, science and reading respectively, well above the OECD average of 489, 489 and 487.

Since Dubai private schools first participated in PISA in 2009, students’ scores for mathematics, science and reading have increased by 27, 14 and 22 points respectively.

Emiratis’ progress

PISA results also showed significant progress by Emirati students at Dubai private schools. In mathematics, Emirati students improved 36 points between 2009 and 2018 – equivalent to one year’s extra schooling, KHDA said. In Science, they improved by 27 points, and by 19 points in reading over the same period.

‘High quality’

KHDA director-general Dr Abdullah Al Karam said: “These results confirm the commitment that private schools in Dubai have made to provide world-class education to hundreds of thousands of students from all over the globe. All families in Dubai – whether they’ve been here for many years or considering a move here in future – can feel confident that their children are receiving high quality education, comparable to the best in the world.”

Highest scorers

In general, the highest scorers by curriculum were students attending International Baccalaureate schools, followed by students at UK curriculum schools, then students at Indian curriculum schools, and schools offering a US-based curriculum.

The latest cycle of PISA included 800,000 students from 79 countries.

Girls vs boys

In private schools across Dubai, girls performed better than boys in Reading Literacy achievement on PISA 2018, with an overall average of 520 as opposed to 483 for boys. This pattern is consistent across Science with an overall average of 505 as opposed to 496 for boys.

In mathematics, boys performed better than girls with an overall average of 506 as opposed to 495 for girls.