Kaewmala has a series of posts at Siam Voices about Thai education failures.
Part 1: Ridiculous O-NET questions which introduces readers to O-NET. Key excerpt:
Thai students need to pass the O-NET (Ordinary National Educational Test) to graduate at the primary (P.6), lower secondary (M.3) and upper-secondary (M.6) school levels. O-NET is organized by the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (NIETS). Ever since O-NET has been implemented 6-7 years ago, it has been criticized for many deficiencies, while students have performed extremely poorly on the O-NET tests. Every year, students and parents complain about O-NET and the media report how bad it is. And the next year, the same thing happens all over again.
How bad? Well, let’s look at the O-NET scores from last year among the upper-secondary O-NET for M.6 (Grade 12) students (which are the most important as they are used for university admission). The 2011 average O-NET scores for all 8 subjects tested, save one, were below 50%. The scores in the most important subjects were even worse: under 20% for Math and English and 30.90% for Sciences.
Part 2: Test scores, standards and accountability. Key excerpt:
National standardized tests’ credibility
Since its implementation the national “standardized” tests like O-NET (and A-NET – Advanced National Educational Test and others) have been widely criticized. There is much doubt whether O-NET and A-NET are effective measurement tools of students’ scholastic abilities. Thai students’ O-NET scores are so appalling that it begs the question about the validity of the test itself. How can students’ performance be so incredibly inferior, so wildly inconsistent and disperse? (See examples of O-NET score distribution at the primary P.6 and lower-secondary M.3 levels.)
The majority scoring in the 0-30% range in key subjects as was the case for M.6 O-NET is simply unacceptable and too suspicious. Scores at all three O-NET levels in core subjects have also been declining over the past three years. At the same time students have been complaining about frequent changes in styles of questions which confused them.
Part 3: PISA scores & a challenge for the 21st century. Key excerpt:
Unfortunately that isn’t the kind of good news for Asia that Thailand can share. We all know that Thai students don’t belong in the same class as the world-class East Asian über-geeks. Of course Thailand has a few of our own über-geeks — we do have some stellar students whowin medals at the math and science Olympiads but their scholastic achievements are at odds with the general performance of their peers in the Thai education system.
Thai students’ performance in international standardized tests is generally below average. That’s not a surprise given such appalling scores they get in national standardized tests like O-NET, although the word “standardized” may be a bit misleading in the O-NET case. Thai students’ scores in most international tests can be described as mediocre or poor. But as appalling as the O-NET scores? To answer that we’ll need to get into some details.