News of Australian students’ falling performance in international testing is dominating the news cycle today — with particular attention given to how we’re faring in relation to China.  

The Australian’s front page highlighted the fact that Australian students are three-and-a-half years behind Chinese students (though didn’t mention that this was only in mathematics), while its page six article reinforced the idea with the headline “Aussie kids years behind China peers”.

Sunrise paired an interview with Education Minister Dan Tehan with graphics pitting Australia’s results against China’s, like rivals in a WWE wrestling match. 

(Image: Sunrise)

Of course, it’s worth noting that while China’s four main provinces (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong) performed the highest in the world across Maths, Reading, and Science, Singapore did better when you factor in Macau and Hong Kong — something News Corp’s papers neglected to mention.

Perhaps that is why The Sydney Morning Herald‘s national education editor Jordan Baker led with a comparison between Australian students and “their counterparts in top-performing Singapore”. She also focused on other metrics, such as how the our “results in maths have declined further than any country but Finland”.

Outside Sydney, the News Corp papers, including the NT News, Melbourne’s Herald Sun and Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, gave greater attention to their local results within the national context.

The NT News’ page 13 story responded to the territory’s poor results — it received the worst overall scores in Australia — by pointing out that its performance in reading and science, and decline in maths, was on par with that of Tasmania.

The Herald Sun was far less forgiving of its state results, leading with the fact that “Victorian students’ math skills are half-a-year behind the levels of 15 years ago”.