By the numbers

31st January 2014 at 00:00


Tackling truancy has a dramatic impact on student attainment, a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found.

High-performing school systems, such as those in Japan and in Shanghai, China, have relatively low truancy rates, according to the OECD, which runs the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).

On average, 18 per cent of students skipped at least one class and 15 per cent missed an entire day in the two weeks before the last round of Pisa tests in 2012, the report says. In Argentina, more than 40 per cent of students missed at least one day, while just 0.6 per cent in Shanghai skipped a day.

The OECD report shows that, on average, children who skipped one or two days of school in the two weeks before the tests gained scores of 52 points lower than those who did not miss any school in that time.

Pisa has found that schools can help to reduce truancy by improving the disciplinary climate in classrooms. Students who got on with their teachers and felt they were listened to were less likely to play truant.


Mean score of students who were ever-present in the two weeks before the Pisa tests, compared with the mean score of those who skipped one or two days

Argentina: 404 - 391

Australia: 519 - 482

Germany: 520 - 474

Hong Kong: 566 - 499

Israel: 476 - 460

Japan: 539 - 461

South Korea: 556 - 433

Shanghai, China: 614 - 532

Sweden: 485 - 423

Turkey: 445 - 443

UK: 502 - 469

US: 488 - 467


Percentage of students skipping one or two days of school in the two weeks before the Pisa tests

Argentina: 41.9

Australia: 25.7

Canada: 18.9

Estonia: 11.9

Germany: 4.2

Greece: 16.7

Hong Kong: 3.4

Japan: 1.3

Kazakhstan: 17.2

Malaysia: 22

New Zealand: 12.9

Qatar: 12.7

Russia: 15.7

Shanghai, China: 0.6

Singapore: 12.5

Spain: 24.2

UK: 15.2

US: 17.9

Vietnam: 7.9

Source: Pisa in Focus 35.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now