enlarges the sample in some smaller areas (regions, provinces,. . . ) to obtain
representative data at this level also.
The result of the report is a score for each participant country (or region)
in each of the subjects considered. It is assumed that these scores describe the
level of competence of the participating countries in the associated subjects.
Every time the tests are performed, one of the three topics is selected to be
analyzed in greater depth. Mathematics was the selected one in the last report
which was released on December 3, 2013 although the study was carried out
in 2012. The goal of this section is to study the role of Spain in this report.
Moreover, we will mainly focus on the mathematical scores. The results in
Science and Reading abilities will be presented in the final part of this section
The 2012 report involved 65 countries. Three of those countries are part of
China (which did not participate in the study): Hong Kong, Macau and Shangai.
Their results were quite good (they scored 538, 561 and 613 points in Mathe-
matics respectively, obtaining the 6th, 3rd and 1st positions). However, they are
not included in this study because they are not usual independent countries and
their results cannot be compared to those of the rest of the participants.
The complete list of the participating countries with their scores appears in
]. The data analyzed in this paper were downloaded from there on
May 23, 2014.
2.1. Spain in the PISA 2012 report
Although there are some dissenting voices, the general feeling seems to be
that Spain did quite badly in this report. For example, on December 3, 2013, the
newspapers El Pa´ıs and La Vanguardia, respectively, stated
“Desde 2003 los re-
sultados en matem´aticas . . . se han mantenido estables dentro de su mediocridad”2
“. . . malos resultados de los alumnos espa˜noles a la hora de enfrentarse a
The reason usually given to support this quite negative point of view is that
Spain scores well below the mean result of the OECD members. For instance,
El Mundo, on December 3, 2013, stated
“. . . [Espa˜na est´a] entre los pa´ıses que
se encuentran ‘significativamente debajo de la media’ de la OCDE”.4
This statement is not unfounded. Table 1 contains the scores of several coun-
tries and the mean score of the OECD members in the three analyzed subjects.
Apart from Spain, the table includes the five best countries in each subject, the
three worst ones, and Italy and Portugal because those countries are perceived
as quite similar in Spain. We see that Spain is below the mean of the OECD
countries in all three subjects, but not too far from it.
Since 2003 the results in Mathematics . . . have remained stable within mediocrity.
. . . bad results of the Spanish students when dealing with daily problems.
. . . [Spain is] between those countries scoring ‘significatively below the mean’ of the OECD.