10 Quick Takeaways from the 2019 PISA Survey

December 6th, 2019


The latest scores from PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, were announced on Tuesday, December 3, 2019. The PISA survey is carried out every three years by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and this time it was among its 37 member states and 42 partner countries and economies. The latest PISA study was based on two-hour tests taken by 600,000 15-year-olds last year.

PISA’s overreliance on standardized test is seen by some as flawed as demonstrated by a call for a moratorium on PISA by more than 100 academics from around the world. On the other hand, the OECD which sponsors PISA and its supporters stand in defense of the test and regard it as a comprehensive and reliable indicator on how students around the world are doing and performing. Nevertheless, the results are worth reviewing.

For this week’s blog, we’ve prepared a quick summary of the latest PISA survey:

  1. U.S. students ranked eighth in reading, 11th in science and 30th in math. (Note: In the United States, a demographically representative sample of 4,800 students from 215 schools took the test.)
  2. China ranked first in science, reading, and math (Note: PISA survey only considered 4 of more than 20 provinces in China that included Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.)
  3. Singapore ranked second in science, reading, and math.
  4. Macau, Hong Kong, Estonia, Canada, Finland and Ireland outperformed the US.
  5. The United Kingdom, Japan and Australia performed similarly to the United States.
  6. 15-year-olds in Germany and the US perform better in mathematics than students in Peru or Indonesia. (Note: Per capita income in Peru and Indonesia is less than that in Germany and US.)
  7. Colombia, Peru and Portugal were among the countries that demonstrated improvement on the test.
  8. 3% of American children from poor families were top performers in reading, compared with an average of 4% of poor children among O.E.C.D. countries.
  9. The report showed that fewer than one in 10 students surveyed in the OECD countries could distinguish between fact and opinion, based on implicit cues pertaining to the content or source of the information.
  10. The only areas in which more than one in seven students demonstrated the ability to distinguish fact from opinion were the four parts of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang), Canada, Estonia, Finland, Singapore and the United States.

Below is the performance ranking for reading (OECD average is 487)

Source: OECD

Below is the performance ranking for mathematics (OECD average is 489)

Source: OECD

Below is the performance ranking for science (OECD average is 489)

Source: OECD









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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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