The new global rankings by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show how students in various countries perform in reading, science, and math. And American students barely got a passing grade, reports Business Insider.
According to a press release, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tested more than 510,000 students in 65 countries and economies on math (the main focus), reading and science in 2012. How well students did in the subjects can indicate how they will succeed — or not succeed — later in life, says the organization. “Math proficiency is a strong predictor of positive outcomes for young adults. It influences their ability to participate in post-secondary education and their expected future earnings,” states the release.
On top in every category are mainly Asian countries such as China, Singapore, Korea, Japan. Tops in math were Shanghai-China and Singapore, with students in Shanghai scoring the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries. Sprinkled in the top are a few non-Asian countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and France.
But America had poor scores; the United States ranks below the OECD average in every category. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. has slipped in all of the major categories in recent years, from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th all the way down to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.
“With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality and a pressing need to boost growth in many countries, it’s more urgent than ever that young people learn the skills they need to succeed,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría during the launch in Washington D.C. “In a global economy, competitiveness and future job prospects will depend on what people can do with what they know. Young people are the future, so every country must do everything it can to improve its education system and the prospects of future generations.”
While American skills in these areas are decreasing, there were countries who improved in math. Among them, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey showed consistent improvement. And Shanghai-China and Singapore improved on their already strong performance in 2009.
There is still a gender gap in these subjects. Boys outperformed girls in maths. They scored higher in 37 out of the 65 countries and economies; girls surpassed boys in five countries.