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Thailand’s Overall English Proficiency Drops Three Years in a Row

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Thailand’s overall English proficiency has fallen for the third year in a row, according to the annual English Proficiency Index. The 2020 index was drafted by global education company EF Education First.

The report showed Thailand’s ranking dropped from 74 out of 100 countries last year to 89 out of 100 this year.

Thailand’s English language proficiency scored 419 out of 800 under the company’s new point scale, which is considered “very low”. For comparison, the Netherlands scored 652, which is the highest out of all the countries surveyed this year.

Last year, Thailand scored 47.62, which was considered “very low” proficiency.

In 2018, Thailand ranked 64 out of 88 countries with a score of 48.54, a drop when compared with 2017, when the kingdom placed 53 out of 80 with a score of 49.7.

Thailand is currently ranked 7th in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, respectively, and ahead of Myanmar. It ranks 20th out of 24 countries in Asia.

Education Ministry Considers Scrapping O-Net Test

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Education Ministry is considering scrapping the Ordinary National Education Test (O-Net), following a directive by Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan.

The permanent secretary for education, Supat Chumpathong, said he will meet with the director of the National Institute of Educational Testing Services (NIETS), Sirada Burachart, to discuss the fate of the standardised test.

He also said there have been several proposals to replace O-Net with a different type of test to assess the quality of students. O-Net measures students’ basic knowledge in four key subjects — mathematics, sciences, English and Thai languages.

Another proposal pushed for the O-Net to be taken by Grade 6 students only, so the ministry can adjust the curriculum for older students, based on the test results.

The permanent secretary told the Bangkok Post that the O-Net is currently seen more as an academic competition, rather than a tool for children’s development.

Many concerned parties have also proposed that the O-Net should be randomly administered on students, like the Programme for International Student Assessment test, said Mr Supat. The permanent secretary admitted that there are still students who have not participated in O-Net.

Ordinary National Educational Test

The Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) is administered annually by the National Institute of Educational Testing Service to grade 6 (ISCED 1), grade 9 (ISCED 2) and grade 12 (ISCED 3) students in public and private schools.

The O-NET was first administered to grade 12 students in 2005, and then was extended to grade 6 students in 2007, and to grade 9 students in 2008.

The O-NET is a high-stake and mandatory examination. The final score which determines promotion to the next grade is based on the O-NET score and the score obtained on school-based assessments held during the academic year; the O-NET contributes 20% and school-based assessments contribute 80% of the final score. In the near future, the O-NET will contribute 50% of the final score.

The O-NET is a written examination, administered face-to-face and delivered through paper-pencil tests in Thailand. All test-takers are presented with the same cognitive booklets or tests, which are aligned with the Basic Education Core Curriculum B.E 2551 (A.D 2008).

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