Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 15-year-old students in 60 countries.

The top 5 countries are Shanghai, Korea, Finland, HK, Singapore.

Shanghai scored 1st in all categories: Reading, Math, and Science. Singapore scored 5th, 2nd and 4th, respectively, in these categories.

Zooming in the elite students % in the test population (5000 students in each country representatives), Singapore elites are not far off (within 1%) than the Shanghai elites in Reading and Science, but lose out in Math with a big gap of 11% (26.6% -15.6%).

That means Singapore top Math students in Maths are far off than Chinese top Math students.

Why ?

Dr. James Li from Fudan University – its form teacher of the 1st batch gifted class – compares the Math education syllabi in Primary schools (P1 to P6), which build the Math foundation of the Shanghai and Singapore students.

The good points of the Chinese Math syllabus (and the lack of in Singapore’s):

1. Chinese P3 uses calculator (P5 in Singapore);

2. P4 learn rules of operation like commutative, associative, distributive laws (lack of in Singapore).

3. Geometry: emphasis on drawing and mapping (inadequate in Singapore Geometry class)

4. P5 learn Algebra & equation (P6 only algebra but no equation).

5. Basic (non-competition) Math Olympiad skill selectively included in Chinese textbooks (lack of in Singapore)

6. Incorporate Mathematician stories like 祖冲之 in being the first person in the world to calculate pi up to 7 decimals. ( lack of in Singapore).

7. Incorporate computing tools and games in Math teaching materials. (Lack of in Singapore).