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Students at private schools in Dubai are performing above the international average in mathematics, science and reading. The latest results of the global test PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) show that students have scored 501, 500, and 501 for Mathematics, Science and Reading respectively, well above the OECD average of 489, 489 and 487.  

Since Dubai private schools first participated in PISA in 2009, students’ scores for Mathematics, Science and Reading have increased by 27, 14 and 22 points respectively. This is equivalent to half a year’s worth of extra schooling.

PISA results also showed significant progress by Emirati students at Dubai private schools. In Mathematics, Emirati students improved 36 points between 2009 and 2018 – equivalent to one year’s extra schooling. In Science, they improved by 27 points, and by 19 points in Reading over the same period. 

Taken as a distinct group, Dubai private schools ranked 19th among all countries and economies participating in PISA, meeting a target of the 2021 UAE National Agenda.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director-General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said: “These results confirm the commitment that private schools in Dubai have made to provide a world-class education to hundreds of thousands of students from all over the globe. All families in Dubai – whether they’ve been here for many years or considering a move here in future – can feel confident that their children are receiving a high-quality education, comparable to the best in the world.

“We’re grateful to the support and love shown by Dubai’s community of teachers, school leaders and parents – these results reflect their devotion to giving all our children a high-quality education that is rooted in wellbeing and rising towards the future.”

In general, the highest scorers by curriculum were students attending International Baccalaureate schools, followed by students at UK curriculum schools, then students at Indian curriculum schools, and schools offering a US-based curriculum.  

PISA assesses how well students can use real-life skills to apply mathematics, science and reading skills in practical, everyday situations.  Many of the skills required, such as confidence, problem-solving, perseverance and empathy, are linked to wellbeing and improved life outcomes. Schools in Dubai are committed to improving their students’ wellbeing using data from the annual Dubai Student Wellbeing Census.

PISA is held every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The latest cycle included 800,000 students from 79 countries.

Data Points for Dubai’s Private Schools performance in PISA

  • In private schools across Dubai Girls performed better than boys in Reading Literacy achievement on PISA 2018 with an overall average of 520 as opposed to 483 for boys. This pattern is consistent across Science with an overall average of 505 as opposed to 496 for boys.
  • In Mathematics boys performed better than girls with an overall average of 506 as opposed to 495 for girls.
  • Every 40 points in PISA is equivalent to one year’s schooling. (For example, 14-year-old students in the same education system would likely score 40 points less than their 15-year-old peers. 16-year-olds would likely score 40 points higher than 15-year-olds.)