Last updateSat, 22 Jun 2019 1pm

National exam finds ‘insufficient proficiency’ in math and reading among Mexico’s sixth graders

Article Three of the Mexican Constitution affirms that citizens have the right to receive a quality education – yet six out of 10 Mexican schoolchildren can’t perform basic addition, subtraction and multiplication prior to junior high school, according to recent findings.

In November, the National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEE) – an institution to be disbanded under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s rescinding of his predecessor’s education reforms – shared the 2018 results of a national test involving 104,973 sixth graders from 3,573 schools, both public and private. Every state in Mexico participated except Oaxaca, Chiapas and Michoacán, where teachers oppose all testing.

The annual standardized test examines mathematical and reading comprehension among students. In a country where only 17 percent of the population have earned a college degree, the outcome suggests that some of today’s educational disparities may start at a young age.

Data show that 59 percent of participants possessed a “dominio insuficiente” (insufficient control) with standardized mathematics while only eight percent have “dominio sobresaliente” (outstanding control). What this means is that the majority of today’s primary school students can handle simple mathematical problems but struggle using decimals, fractions, etc.

“If you introduce operations with decimal numbers or fractions, they can’t do it, neither can they solve equations including these equations,” said Jorge Hernández, head of the System Evaluation Unit of National Education. “They can interpret bar graphs but have a hard time calculating percentages or identifying the mode, much less calculating a mean or a median.”

Jalisco holds the highest national average in mathematics with a score of 535, while Guerrero regressed to Mexico’s lowest ranking at 453.

Numbers were also low in Spanish language and communication classes, with approximately 49 percent of pupils still grappling with reading comprehension at the most fundamental levels. Based on figures, students lacking critical reading skills can only discern the most explicit information. Only three percent of students excelled at the top level.

“Identifying the date or name of a character in a narrative are some of the only things students can do,” said Hernández. “Understanding implied events and relating information from different resources are challenges for many.”

Mexico City surpassed every state in linguistics with a tally of 541. Jalisco, Sonora and Yucatán scored around the 500s, while Guerrero came in last with 454 points, 30 digits lower than Zacatecas in second-to-last-place.

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