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Published:  1 Jul 2022

Increasing achievement and motivation in mathematics and science learning in schools

New insights into what education authorities across Europe can do to strengthen student motivation, raise achievement, and help those falling behind, especially in mathematics and science learning.


The report ‘Increasing achievement and motivation in mathematics and science learning in schools’, published today by the European Commission’s Eurydice network, examines how mathematics and science teaching and learning are organised in Europe, how learning outcomes are assessed and how students are supported when facing difficulties in the learning process.

Increasing student achievement

Mathematics and science education play a crucial role in shaping the future of Europe. In our fast-changing world, mastering mathematics and science can help younger generations address the major challenges we are facing – including sustainable development, global health and the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

Despite the emphasis on numeracy and scientific literacy in the European Education Area, the share of pupils not reaching basic achievement levels remains considerably above the agreed maximum target of 15%. When many students in Europe lack basic literacy in mathematics and science, it is crucial to know what policies have the potential to influence student achievement.

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, commented

“The socio-economic background of students continues to influence achievement. For disadvantaged students, the risk of underperformance can be significant, which has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

But we have a vision. Our goal is to build a European Education Area where all young people receive quality education, acquire an adequate level of knowledge, skills and competences, and have the opportunity to fully develop their potential”.

Main findings

The report further highlights the following main findings

  • the most common way of supporting students with learning difficulties is through additional one-to-one or small-group tutoring, either during the formal school day or outside of it
  • education systems providing learning support during the formal school day tend to have lower percentages of low-achieving students in both mathematics and science
  • education systems in which teachers with a specialisation in supporting low-achieving students (‘remedial teachers’) are involved in learning support provision have, on average, lower percentages of low-achievers in mathematics
  • topics related to the protection of nature or reducing pollution are in curricula everywhere, but environmental sustainability is still not among the key educational principles in half of European education systems
  • there is a shortage of specialist teachers in mathematics and science, and a strong need for more continuing professional development in these fields
  • despite the large impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ learning experiences, only half of the education systems have put additional learning support measures in place
Published:  1 Jul 2022