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Statement from Gov. Bob Wise on PISA Results

U.S. Makes Largest Improvement in Educational Equity, According to International Test of Fifteen-Year-Olds

WASHINGTON, DC—This morning, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the most recent results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)—a test of reading literacy, mathematics, and science given every three years to fifteen-year-olds in the United States and more than seventy countries and economies. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, made the following statement:

“The PISA rankings are the shiny bow on top of the PISA present that get the most attention, but the analysis and data inside the box are what will prove invaluable to policymakers in the coming months and years.

“That’s why the Alliance for Excellent Education is holding PISA Day: Global Lessons for the U.S. Education System and Economy, a series of panel discussions on December 7 highlighting important lessons to learn from PISA 2015.

“For example, the OECD credits the United States for the largest improvement in equity in education from 2006 to 2015. Specifically, the United States had the largest increase—12 percentage points—in the percentage of ‘resilient’ students, defined as disadvantaged students who perform better than predicted by their socioeconomic status. Because students from low-income families and students of color make up more than half of all U.S. schoolchildren, continuing to improve the performance of these students is key to the nation’s future success.

“The latest PISA results also tell us that American students have a much higher interest in science than their international peers, with 38 percent of U.S. fifteen-year-olds expecting to work in a science-related career at age 30, compared to the international average of 24 percent.

“The challenge for the nation is converting interest into impact and ensuring that American students are the ones making medical discoveries or creating the latest Silicon Valley start-up. Doing so means closing gaps in access to high-quality science instruction. According to PISA, advantaged students receive roughly fifty minutes more in science instruction per week in school than their disadvantaged peers.

“For American students who have expressed an interest in science careers, deeper learning experiences in the field help make readiness for those careers a reality. PISA provides examples of how other countries are ensuring that all students understand content deeply; use the knowledge to think critically and solve problems; communicate effectively; collaborate; and support student agency/ownership for learning.

“PISA tells us that pursuing equity does not mean forgoing excellence. As the United States approaches a new year—one that will be dramatically different from 2016 in many ways—it must continue to focus on equity as it seeks excellence, especially as states and districts take on a greater responsibility for students’ learning outcomes through the Every Student Succeeds Act.”


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.