Chile Takes the Lead: Latin America’s Top Performer in the 2022 Pisa


The 2022 Pisa: why Latin America’s top contender is Chile

Among the Latin American countries that participated in the Pisa test, Chile outperformed the rest. While Brazil, on the other hand, is still struggling and has shown little improvement since 2009.

In terms of the Pisa test, which measures the cognitive abilities of 15-year-olds from OECD nations, Chile has consistently ranked first among Latin American countries. Despite a drop in scores due to the pandemic, Chile managed to maintain its top position in the region. The country’s success can be attributed to several measures that have not been implemented by Brazil, such as standards and quality control, decentralization of administration, and a focus on training and recruiting high-quality teachers.

Both Chile and Brazil allocate 6% of their GDP to education, but Chile has shown improvement in recent years. In the Pisa 2022 exam, Chilean students scored 412 in arithmetic, 448 in reading, and 444 in science. On the other hand, Brazilian students scored 379 in math, 410 in reading, and 403 in science. While Chile is in a better position than Brazil, as it is closer to the performance of better-ranked countries, both countries have remained stagnant for a few years.

The percentage of Chilean students who do not have a basic understanding of mathematics has decreased from 73% to 44%, while in Brazil, 55% of students lack basic mathematical skills. In terms of reading proficiency, 50% of Brazilians fail to reach level 2, while 34% of Chileans fail to reach level 3. In terms of scientific knowledge, 36% of Chileans have the minimum required knowledge for their age group, compared to 45% of Brazilians.

Chile became the first Latin American country to participate in the Pisa test in 2000, scoring 410 in reading. After skipping the 2003 edition, Chile participated again in 2006 and saw a 32-point improvement in reading scores. Since then, Chile has maintained its level 2 status, which is better than other Latin American countries but still below the OECD average.

One reason for Chile’s success is its rigorous evaluation system and prescriptive curriculum. Unlike Brazil, which lacks a standardized system, Chile sought advice from the OECD on how to improve its educational policies. The country has a constant public discussion on education and strives to improve the conditions and learning outcomes for its students.

Reforms to the education system have contributed to Chile’s progress. The establishment of the Education Quality Agency and the Education Superintendency, authorized by the General Education Law, has helped monitor compliance with educational regulations and assess student learning outcomes. The decentralization of education in Chile has also played a key role, giving schools the autonomy to adapt the curriculum to their specific needs.

Education expert Ilona Becskeházy suggests that Brazil should follow Chile’s example and empower state and local governments to spearhead educational reforms. The government should also learn from successful foreign models to address the challenges in the education system.

Improving teacher preparation programs is another crucial aspect highlighted by experts. In Chile, initiatives like the “I want to be a Prof.” program by the NGO Elige Educar recruit teachers with good academic performance and provide support and guidance for aspiring teachers. In Brazil, there is a need to enhance teaching courses and pedagogy, emphasizing the connection between theory and practice.

In conclusion, Chile has emerged as the top contender in Latin America in terms of educational performance, particularly in the Pisa test. The country’s success can be attributed to measures such as standards and quality control, decentralization of administration, and a focus on training and recruiting high-quality teachers. Brazil, on the other hand, still has a long way to go in improving its education system. By learning from Chile’s experience and implementing necessary reforms, Brazil can strive towards better educational outcomes for its students.