US Students Lag Behind their International Counterparts in Global Achievement Exams

Posted on: December 5, 2013

The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores were recently released and U.S. students slipped further down in the international rankings. U.S. students scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science and reading, compared with other countries that participated in the assessment.

Overall, U.S. students rank 17th in reading, 21st in science and 26th in math, trailing nations such as Solvakia, Portugal and Russia. These rankings have remained roughly the same since the PISA assessment started in 2000, indicating that our students are not improving at the same rate as other countries.

The PISA exam, which is administered every three years to 15-year-olds, is designed to gauge how students use the material they have learned inside and outside the classroom to solve problems. Administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the exam is designed to measure whether students can apply what they've learned in school to real-life problems. Nearly 6,100 U.S. students participated in this round of testing out of a total of 510,000 students world-wide.

In addition, Florida, was one of three states who opted to boost their participation in PISA to get more state-specific data. On average, Florida students scored below the global average in math and science and near the global average in reading.

"The countries who consistently perform the best on international assessments are countries that have consistent and high standards across each grade level," said Jo Anne Vasquez, Vice President and Program Director, Arizona Transition Years STEM Teaching and Learning Initiatives. "That's one reason we continue to support the full implementation of Common Core State Standards which provide increased rigor for our students and are grade-level consistent from state to state."

U.S. students have historically ranked low on international assessments. One important consideration is the United States' commitment to educating all students where in many other countries, formal education is reserved for the elite. However, data like this is an indication that we must work to increase the rigor in our classrooms. It is our responsibility to ensure that our students are prepared to succeed in college and career as well as compete with both their national and international peers.

Click here to learn more about the PISA scores.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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