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Bad news on maths

More pessimistic news on maths standards is expected next week when an international study of pupils' performance in the subject is published.

The Third International Study of Maths and Science, covering more than 500,000 students in 46 countries, will show a comparable performance in Scotland to that in England, where 13-year-olds have moved from a factor of 3 per cent above average performance when the last study was undertaken in 1991 to 3 per cent below.

Nine-year-olds were also tested but these results will not be issued until later.

The scale of the problem is shown by the performance of Singapore which is believed to top the table for correct answers, achieved by 79 per cent against 55 per cent of English 13-year-olds.

The Inspectorate is mounting an investigation into maths teaching in Scotland, with inspectors visiting the Pacific Rim countries to make comparisons, following concerns expressed in the Assessment of Achievement Programme and HMI's recent report on Standards and Quality.

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