assess the extent to which students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies (PISA Results, Volume I, p. 19)In addition to the 34 OECD member nations, a further 31 "partner countries" take part. Some of these partners, such as Shanghai, were among the top performers, despite lower education budgets than in the OECD and wide socioeconomic disparities within them. In fact, Shanghai topped the list in all three categories (see below).
The U.S. scores on the high end of average in reading and science, and just below average in math. As the table below shows, America scores better than a few countries often thought of as more "socially advanced," such as Sweden. Though there is obviously room for improvement (and the PISA report discusses improved scores in countries as diverse as South Korea, Poland, Germany, and Brazil), the sky is not falling on U.S. education just yet.
In future posts, I plan to take up more education-related issues. Here, I wanted to show that the U.S. is not starting from as bad a baseline as it does, for example, in health care. Without further ado, here are the PISA scores for the top 50 countries:
|Source: OECD, PISA 2009 Database|