06 Dec PISA Finds US Students Still Below Average In Math

December 6, 2016

By: Tara Garcia Mathewson
Source: Education Dive

Dive Brief:

  • The latest triennial survey of 15-year-old in OECD countries, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), focused on science but also tested math and reading, placing the United States about average in science and reading but below average in math.
  • According to the results, 20% of U.S. 15-year-olds are low performers, about average for the 35 OECD nations but more than twice as high as in Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam; the portion of high performers is also significantly lower than Japan, Singapore and Taipei but average overall.
  • Equity has improved since 2006, the last time science was the focus of PISA, and 32% of disadvantaged students in the U.S. performed above expectations and in the top quarter of students with the same socioeconomic status across all PISA countries — 12% higher than in 2006.


Dive Insight:

The PISA results present some good news and some bad news. The United States is far from leading the world in education. That has not changed since the last international assessment. But the fact that equity is increasing is a major victory. The Obama administration has made equity a central focus of its Education Department activities, and educators across the country seem to be helping students overcome their circumstances to find academic success. Still, despite the progress, disadvantaged students in the U.S. are still 2.5 times more likely to be low performers than advantaged students.

The PISA report on the U.S. results also mentions “emerging science education” that focuses on multidisciplinary principles and the actual practices of working scientists and engineers. This is the direction in which the Next Generation Science Standards are pushing instruction, and the PISA report says this is in line with the what it examines, which could set the nation up for improvement in 2024.

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