The Generalitat already targeted immigration for school results 10 years ago

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Portrait of the former Minister of Education of the Generalitat, Irene Rigau, at a conference in Madrid

The disastrous results obtained by Catalonia in the PISA Report are still in the spotlight. The grades put Catalan students below the Spanish average and, in some areas, ahead only of Andalusia, Ceuta, and Melilla. The results, for the first time, were explained by the “overrepresentation” of immigrants in classrooms.

The Secretary of Education Reform of the Government, Ignasi García Plata, blamed immigration for the bad results of the report on Tuesday, December 5. His thesis didn’t even last 24 hours. Well, the Minister of Education, Anna Simó, explained hours later that there were no “excuses” and assured that “we already have the problem identified.”

The problem, according to Simó, is not because of immigration; it is because of “child poverty and school segregation.” And to make matters worse, the “overrepresentation” that García Plata talks about does not exist. The representation of migrant students in PISA, after correction, is correct.

After 10 years, the problem is still the same

Apart from corrections or divergences, the fact is that the Generalitat already supported the theory of immigration 10 years ago. In 2013, the then Minister of Education, Irene Rigau, already pointed to immigrant students as one of the reasons for the poor results in the PISA Report.

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Portrait Of The Former Minister Of Education Of The Generalitat, Irene Rigau, At A Conference In Madrid

Therefore, with the results that already put Catalonia below the average of the OECD countries in mathematics and science, the conclusion is clear. Asked about the case of Castilla-León, a community with the best ratios at the time, Rigau assured that the said community has a “more traditional, classic, and homogeneous” population.

The situation in Catalonia, with its large number of “newly arrived” immigrants, means that its results in the PISA Report are already showing a symptomatic decline. Therefore, Rigau has emphasized the great impact that immigrant students represent in the Catalan school system.

Data variability

Before Simó’s correction, the government was clear about this. And Joan Cuevas, general director of innovation, digitalization, and curriculum, explained the reasons for this problem. Well, as he said, within this 24% of immigrant students assessed by PISA, there are 14.5% who are first-generation immigrants.

In other words, they were born in another country and, therefore, they started their education in another country. Exactly what Rigau was up to in 2013.

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However, what Rigau didn’t think about 10 years ago was the second piece of information taken from the current PISA Report. And, also according to the current report, 9.5% of the immigrants examined are of the second generation. In other words, I was born in Catalonia. So your schooling is done completely here.

The Government and the ‘yes, but no’

The first time it was immigration, but later it became more nuanced. The Secretary of Education Reform, Ignasi García Plata, admitted on Tuesday that Catalan students “have clearly worsened” in the PISA tests. The reason, he said, is clear.

Well, 24% of the students examined are immigrants, while in the Catalan education system as a whole, it represents 15%. The data supports the “overrepresentation” he spoke of.

But 24 hours later, García Plata changed his version. He came back and admitted that the representation of migrant students in PISA was correct. “We contacted those responsible for PISA, and we clarified the quality of the sample,” the government stated in an official note.

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“Differences in the interpretation of the sample’s representation have been resolved, and all doubts have been dismissed,” they explained.

Catalonia dropped in the PISA Report

The data speaks for itself. Catalonia’s results in the 2022 PISA tests fall into the areas of assessment, reading comprehension, mathematics, and science. And not only this, because the grades put Catalan students below the average for Spain and the OECD countries.

The reading comprehension results are very representative. Catalonia, above registering the worst result since 2006, is placed in the penultimate position of the Spanish level. Just beyond Andalusia, Ceuta, and Melilla. The data is shocking: Catalan students scored 462 points, 22 less than in 2018.

In the mathematics competition, Catalonia obtained 469 points, 21 less than the last tests held in 2018. Since 2006, Catalonia has not achieved such a low result. Likewise, in science, Catalan students obtained 477 points, 12 less than in 2018. We have to go back to 2003 to find results like this.

Finally, in the scientific competition, Catalan students obtained the worst data since 2003 with 477 points, 12 below 2018.