U.S. Gets Underwhelming Results in Global Educational Performance Assessment

Fifteen-year-old American students produced underwhelming results in an broad global assessment, the results of which were published today. Read highlights from PISA 2009.

The U.S. ranked 25th out of the 34 countries assessed in mathematics, in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), according to the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

The exams were taken by nearly 500,000 pupils from around the world in countries ranging from economic super powers to low-income countries.  American students’ results in science, where they came in 17th, were also disappointing as was the 14th place in reading.

The OECD’s international test, first administered in 2000 and given every three years, assesses pupils’ skills as they near the end of their compulsory schooling.

Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Program, Carnegie Corporation of New York and co-chair of Opportunity Equation, an initiative working to improve math and science education so that all students achieve much higher levels of learning, offered these comments on the 2009 PISA.  

“Although we had hoped to see a marked increase in U.S. student performance, these results can serve an important purpose: keeping us focused on the negative consequences for our youth of continuing with the status quo.  It is my hope and belief that these results will lead the education and policy communities to step up the pace of reform and innovation.”

“For more than a year we have advocated around the findings in the Carnegie Corporation of New York-Institute for Advance Study’s report, The Opportunity Equation, which makes the case for accelerating improvement in math and science while offering clear strategies to help us get there. With PISA results showing minimal movement in math and science, the education community needs to make an entirely new level of commitment to putting more effective teachers and standards in place, and a new level of innovation in school designs that ensure better and more equitable math and science instruction.”