The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released the results of it 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) on Dec. 7. The test was given to a representative sampling of 15-year old students in 65 countries in math, science and reading. 

The United States ranked 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 32nd in math among the participating countries. 

The average scale score on PISA is 500. The average score of United States students was 502 in science, 500 in reading and 487 in math.  

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement, “Today’s PISA results show that America needs to urgently accelerate student learning to remain competitive in the global economy of the 21st century. More parents, teachers, and leaders need to recognize the reality that other high-achieving nations are both out-educating us and out-competing us. Our educational system has a long way to go to fulfill the American promise of education as the great equalizer.

“Being average in reading and science — and below average in math — is not nearly good enough in a knowledge economy where scientific and technological literacy is so central to sustaining innovation and international competitiveness. The results are especially troubling because PISA assesses applied knowledge and the higher-order thinking skills critical to success in the information age.”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...