Catalonia falls behind in all three aspects of PISA student report 

15-year-old Catalan pupils behind Spanish average in mathematics, science and reading

Students in Martorell sit the PISA exam in 2018
Students in Martorell sit the PISA exam in 2018 / Norma Vidal
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

December 5, 2023 11:31 AM

December 5, 2023 07:57 PM

Catalonia's results in the 2022 PISA tests have fallen in all three areas of assessment, placing Catalan students below the average for Spain and other countries that form part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 tests assessed the mathematics, science and reading comprehension skills of more than 700,000 15-year-old students in 81 countries around the world. In Catalonia, they took place during the spring of 2022.

As can be seen from the report published this Tuesday, Catalonia obtained 469 points in mathematics, 21 less compared to the last tests carried out in 2018, the lowest score since 2006.

In science, Catalan students scored their worst results since 2003 with 477 points, 12 less than in 2018.

In reading, pupils scored their worst results since 2006 with 462 points, 22 less than in 2018, and only ahead of Andalusia (461), Melilla (405) and Ceuta (404) within Spain.


In mathematics, students' scores fell from 490 points in 2018 to 469 points this time around. This 21-point drop places Catalonia below Spain's average of 473 points.

The average of all OECD countries in math is 472 points, placing Catalonia below as well.

In science, the average for both Spain and OECD countries was 485 points, while Catalonia recorded 477 - 12 points less than in the 2018 tests.

Catalan students again fell in reading comprehension, dropping 22 points compared to the 2018 tests, gaining 462 points in the latest report. This score places Catalonia 12 points below the average of Spain (474) and 14 points below the average of OECD countries (476).

Government blames "over-representation" of immigrant students

The Catalan government put the poor results down to an "overrepresentation" of immigrant students in the tests.


This was stated by the Secretary of Educational Transformation, Ignasi García Plata, who also admitted that Catalan students "have clearly gotten worse" in the three areas.

According to the Education Department, 24% of students examined were immigrants, while in the Catalan education system as a whole they represent 15%.

The department also suggested that the poor results in reading comprehension are due to a "relaxation" in the teaching of reading from an early age. 

"Shocking" data

Opposition parties were fiercely critical of the results. 

Socialist spokesperson in parliament, Alicia Romero, asked the government to share its plan in the face of such "shocking" data from the PISA report. 


"Education is entering a crisis," she said, describing the data as "very bad" and the "worst results" in Catalonia's history. 

Romero said the data was also worrying in terms of inequality and called for measures to combat school segregation. "The most vulnerable are worse off in Catalonia than in other [Spanish] territories," she said. 

Junts spokesperson Mònica Sales described the report as "alarming." 

"It's time to move from words to deeds. We need to move to action," Sales said. 

Junts have been calling for a "change of course" for some time, she said, adding that the "terrible management" of the previous education minister, Josep González Cambray, was now more visible than ever. 

The conservative People's Party blamed the results on Catalonia's language immersion system, which requires subjects to be taught in Catalan. 

"It is a failed system. The facts corroborate it," the PP's Lorena Roldán said. 

She asked the government not to "play politics with education" and said that "nationalist obsession is taking away rights and freedoms." 

Singapore tops PISA 2022 report

On a global scale, the best mathematics results were obtained by Singapore (575), Japan (536), Korea (527), Estonia (510) and Switzerland (508).

In reading comprehension, Singapore (543), Japan (516), Ireland (516), Korea (515) and Estonia (511) top the list of results.

Finally, in science, the best results were recorded in Singapore (561), Japan (547), Korea (528), Estonia (526) and Canada (515).

Compared to other countries, for maths, Catalonia is around the level of Italy (471), Vietnam (469) and Norway (468). In reading, Catalonia compares with Vietnam (462) and the Netherlands (459). In science, Catalonia is at the level of Italy (477), Norway (478) and Turkey (476).