Invalsi tests, 35% of middle school students do not understand an Italian text. And in the South 8 out of 10 late for English
An alarm bell that resounds with the new OECD-Pisa survey that assesses the skills of 15-year-olds with respect to reading, math and science. To represent a total population of 32 million 15-year-old students from all 79 countries and economies participating in this edition – presented today – there are about 600 thousand students who took the two-hour computer test. In Italy, 11,785 students took the test, representing a population of about 521,000 15-year-old students.The results confirm the improvements of Italian students in mathematics. Instead they remain below the OECD average for reading, defined as the ability to understand, use, evaluate, reflect and get involved in a text. And skills in the sciences worsen. The gap between North and South, between high schools and professionals and gender differences are also confirmed. Results that make one say to Anna Maria Ajello, President Invalsi, who "does not take charge of the problem with respect to reading data that, on the contrary, must worry".
Italy's score in the reading is 476 against 487 of the OECD average. Our country ranks between the 23rd and 29th place among the OECD countries. A fairly stable figure compared at the last survey of 2015 (485). But if you look back, our kids got worse: minus 11 points compared to 2000 and minus 10 points compared to ten years ago (2009) in reading skills.
Italy is at the level of Switzerland, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Iceland and Israel. The Chinese provinces of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Singapore obtain an average score higher than that of all the countries that participated in the survey. This is nothing new, but the gap between North and South is confirmed: students in the Northern areas get the best results, above the OECD average (North West 498 and North East 501), while their peers in the Southern areas they are those that present the greatest difficulties (South 453 and South Islands 439). +
The differences between high-school students, who obtain the best results (521) and the boys of the technical Institutes (458) and professional (395) and professional training (404), are also striking. In high schools we find the highest percentage of students who reach the highest levels, defined as top performers: they are 9% against 2% of technicians. Who reaches the minimum level of competence in reading is 8% in high schools, a percentage that rises to 27% in technicians ,. It does not reach level 2 – the minimum level – at least 50% of students in vocational schools and vocational training.
Italian has become a foreign language
In reading the girls exceed the boys by 25 points; in the North-East in the South Islands the gap reaches 30 and 35 points of difference. The advantage of the girls is also confirmed by a greater presence of boys who do not reach the minimum level of competence: about 28% against 19%.
In Maths goes better. The Italian students obtained an average score (487 – it was 490 in 2015) in line with the average of the OECD countries (489). A result similar to that of Portugal, Australia, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Luxembourg, Spain, Georgia, Hungary and the United States. Here too the differences are felt by confirming a two-speed school. The students of the North East, with a score of 515, and those of the North West, with 514, obtain better results than the students of the Center (494), of the South (458) and of the South Islands (445). In particular, the two provinces of Trento and Bolzano achieved results not unlike the Scandinavian countries.
From 2009 to today, the trend in Pisa mathematics has remained constant. Compared to the previous cycles, the 2018 survey showed an improvement only compared to 2003 (+21 points) and 2006 (+25 points). They are the boys, especially those who reach the most excellent levels, to overcome the girls. In OECD countries, the average difference between males and females in mathematics is 5 points, in favor of the former. In Italy this difference is higher: 16 points.
The situation of competencies in Science: the score is 468 against the OECD average of 489. In 2015 it was 481. More generally, if you look at a longer period, the average results in science in 2018 is significantly lower than that observed in 2009- 15. Italy is in line with Turkey, Slovakia and Israel and, among the partner countries, Croatia, Belarus, Ukraine.
The differences in the average results between macro-areas are very marked: the students of the North West and the North East get the best results with 491 and 497 points respectively. The students of the Center follow with 473 points, finally we find those of the South and South Islands (respectively 443 and 430 points). High schools get an average result in significantly higher sciences (503) than all other types of schools and technical institutes achieve a result (460) that exceeds that of professional institutes (394) and vocational training centers (408) .
The school of inequalities
The school system does not unlock the social lift. Schools tend to be attended by students with the same socio-economic and cultural background, the survey notes. And this creates a segregation effect. Suffice it to say that the variance of results among schools in Italy is 43% of the total variance against 29% of the OECD average.
With the same skills, there is a greater difficulty in imagining one's future if the boys come from socially disadvantaged conditions. Excellent students who want a degree higher than the diploma are 9 out of 10 if they come from an advantageous socio-economic context; down to 6 out of 10 if they are socio-economically disadvantaged.
And the stereotypes of gender that resist are strong. The career expectations of students with the best results in mathematics and science prove it: one boy out of four plans to work as an engineer or as a professional in science at the age of 30. Among the girls the percentage is lower: only one out of eight imagines its future.