On the science literacy scale, the average score of U.S. students (502) was not measurably different from the OECD average (501). Among the 33 other OECD countries, 12 had higher average scores than the United States, 9 had lower average scores, and 12 had average scores that were not measurably different from the U.S. average score. The OECD countries with higher average scores than the United States were: Finland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Estonia, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Slovenia. The OECD countries with lower average scores than the United States were: the Slovak Republic, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Chile, and Mexico. Among the other 64 countries and education systems, 18 had higher average scores, 33 had lower average scores, and 13 had average scores that were not measurably different from the U.S. average score.
PISA describes six science literacy proficiency levels ranging from level 1 to level 6, the most advanced. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. students and students in the OECD countries on average scored at or above level 4 on the science literacy scale. At level 4 students "select and integrate explanations from different disciplines of science or technology" and "link those explanations directly to...life situations." Eighteen percent of U.S. students and students in the OECD countries on average scored below level 2. Below level 2 students may not be able to consistently "provide... explanations in familiar contexts or draw conclusions based on simple investigations" or consistently "make literal interpretations."
Trends in Performance in Science Literacy
The U.S. average score in science literacy in 2009 was higher than the U.S. average in 2006. While U.S. students scored, on average, below the OECD average in science literacy in 2006, the average score of U.S. students in 2009 was not measurably different from the 2009 OECD average.