Chinese students topped the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's PISA tests last year.
PISA, or the Program for International Student Assessment held every three years, measures 15-year-olds' ability to use their reading, math and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.
The average score of 15-year-old Chinese students from four cities and regions—Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces—ranked first among 79 countries in three core academic subjects: reading, science and math.
The 2018 PISA tested about 600,000 15-year-old students from 79 high- and middle-income countries globally.
The test results show the progress in China's basic education. However, it's too soon to be complacent about the results as the four Chinese areas that took part in the tests have more advanced education systems since they are more economically and socially developed. Given the large gaps between east and west China, and also rural and urban areas, in education, this result can hardly represent the overall standards in China's education system.
Also, test scores are not the sole criterion for judging education quality. The test showed that Chinese students study longer hours—31.8 hours per week, which ranks fourth among the countries and regions tested. Their study efficiency and level of happiness are low. On the other hand, although UK students didn't score high in the test, their level of happiness ranked high.
The problems with Chinese education cannot be ignored just because one test has produced good results. The gap in education quality between urban and rural areas and between different schools and students' heavy academic pressure still need to be addressed.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published on Guancha.gmw.cn on December 6)