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Singapore Math – The Winning Formula at PISA

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

PISA is the Program for International Student Assessment

Why is Singapore Math gaining traction internationally?

What is encouraging more educational institutions, schools and parents across the globe to adopt Singapore Math for their children’s education?

Why do Singapore students perform better than their peers in the West?

To put it all into context, let’s take the example of how Singapore students perform in the PISA exams held once every 3 years.

First conducted in 2000, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy.

Competent 15-year olds across the globe are tested to gauge how well they apply their knowledge to solve problems. In other words, PISA tests students on their critical thinking skills.

But what is it about Singapore’s system that enables its children to outperform their international peers?

Aiming to move away from simple rote-learning and to focus instead on teaching children how to problem solve, the Singapore math method focuses on mastery, achieved through critical thinking and intentional sequencing of concepts.

A study by the UCL Institute of Education and Cambridge University found that the ‘mastery approach’ improved the speed at which students learned math skills.

Singapore math focuses on fewer topics but covers them in greater detail.

Children are trained to think critically for greater success in the future

Educational concepts worldwide are being modified to integrate critical thinking.

Amongst the many advantages of critical thinking. Here are some key benefits of training children in critical thinking:

· To quickly sieve through and information to solve problems

· To identify connections (patterns) between facts and ideas

· To summarize, present and communicate ideas in a logical and convincing manner

· To solve problems in a systematic manner

The consistent and impressive performance of Singapore curriculum trained children has led Governments around the world to incorporate elements of the ‘Singapore Model’ in their own approach of teaching mathematics.

On the 2015 PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment, which tests students in math, science and reading skills), Singapore ranked as the top-performing country in each of these three subjects.

The most recent PISA held in 2018 assessed students' science, reading, and mathematics literacy in about 80 countries and education systems. In 2018 Singapore emerged second best, while the top spot was taken over by students from China.

Singapore Math has become a popular choice amongst parents who are keen to inculcate a strong foundation of the subject in their children’s educational journey.

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