Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Top of the class


The author asks what the results of international testing tell educators about high performance in science. In April 2009, the OECD published a report, 'Top of the Class: High performers in science in PISA 2006', which examines the student results across all OECD countries and draws some general conclusions. Among the findings are that: (1) achieving excellence is dependent on more than inherent student ability and the proportion of top performers varies widely from country to country; (2) socioeconomic disadvantage is not an insurmountable barrier; (3) native speakers tend to be top performers in science; (4) on average, gender has no impact on performance; (5) attendance at a non-government school confers an advantage on students studying science. The analysis found that top performers in science are engaged learners who put a significant amount of effort into the study of science, particularly at school. The study also draws a correlation, although not necessarily a causal relationship, between high performance in science and research and innovation in a country. In this regard, Finland has the highest rating. [Author abstract, ed]

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