U.S. fifteen-year-olds ranked 8th in reading, 11th in science, and 30th in math according to the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), released on December 3. Their performance placed U.S. teenagers above the international average in reading and science, below it in math, and in roughly the same spot from the previous assessment three years ago in all three subjects.
While overall rankings for U.S. students improved since the previous assessment, the increase was due to decreased performance in several other countries. Depending on which analysis you read, the performance of U.S. students has been “stable,” or, if you take a more pessimistic view, “stagnant,” in reading since 2000, in math since 2003, and in science since 2006.
While the average scores and international rankings get much of the attention, PISA also includes interesting findings from its educator and student questionnaires. For example:
- Many students, especially disadvantaged students, hold lower ambitions than would be expected given their academic achievement. In the U.S., 11 percent of high-achieving disadvantaged students do not expect to complete postsecondary education, compared to only 1 percent of high-achieving advantaged students.
- According to school principals in the United States, 26 percent of teachers in disadvantaged schools have less than five years of professional experience, compared to 12 percent in advantaged schools.
For more information on the performance of U.S. students and how they compare internationally, plus more findings from the questionnaires, read the ten-page summary report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.