In a global economy, U.S. students are competing against peers from the rest of the world, as well as those from across the United States. How U.S. students perform academically relative to those in other countries matters for the future of the country.
Since 2000, the United States has participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures fifteen-year-olds’ abilities to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. On the most recent PISA, in 2015, U.S. students ranked twentieth out of thirty-five OECD nations in reading literacy; nineteenth in science; and thirty-first in mathematics.
International comparisons like PISA provide information about the characteristics of high-performing education systems. For example, data from PISA shows that high-performing systems provide all students with similar opportunities to learn. The data also shows a link between success on PISA and a country’s economic success.