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Average Performance of U.S. Students Relative to International Peers on the Most Recent International Assessments in Reading, Mathematics, and Science: Results from PIRLS 2006, TIMSS 2007, and PISA 2009


Results

The most recent U.S. results on international assessments of reading, mathematics, and science literacy are those from the 2006 PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), the 2007 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), and the 2009 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).

The following analysis used the International Data Explorer, a web-based data tool on the NCES website that allows users to produce their own statistical analyses online, to compare the average scores of U.S. students in each subject and at each grade level with their peers from around the world. The results below are based on comparisons of different countries' education systems' average scores with the international average on each assessment. For more information about the calculation of the international averages, see About This Analysis.

Results:
At grade 4, U.S. students performed above the international average in all three subjects and at grade 8, U.S. students performed above the international average in both mathematics and science (reading is not assessed internationally at grade 8). However, at age 15, U.S. students performed below the international average in mathematics literacy and not different from the international average in reading and science literacy.

>Other systems with average scores above the international average in at least one subject at grade 4 but below the international average at age 15 included Austria, Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Spain, and Sweden.

>U.S. states Massachusetts and Minnesota (the only states that reported separately in the last round of international assessments) each had average scores above the international average in: mathematics and science at both grades 4 and 8.

Education systems that scored above the international average in all subjects and age or grade levels they assessed included Hong Kong-China and Singapore, which participated in the most recent assessments in each subject offered at all three age levels, as well as Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Shanghai-China, and Switzerland, which did not assess every age or grade level in all subjects offered.

>Australia, Chinese Taipei, Germany, and Poland scored above the international average in all subjects and age levels they assessed, except one in which they were not measurably different.

To download a PDF of this page, please click here.

To download the International Data Explorer output on which this page is based, please use the links below:

About the NCES International Data Explorer

The NCES International Data Explorer, a web-based data tool, enables users to quickly and easily produce tables, charts, and maps comparing the performance and educational contexts of students in the United States and countries around the world. The International Data Explorer is available at:

http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/international/IDE

About This Analysis

This analysis compares the mean scores of participating education systems (in most cases countries, but in some cases sub-national or non-national entities) with the international average score.

>For reading at grade 4, the international average is the PIRLS Scale Average, which is the mean score of the participating countries in the first round of PIRLS (2001). PIRLS anchored its scale average in its first round in order to facilitate comparisons over time.

>For mathematics and science at grades 4 and 8, the international average is the TIMSS Scale Average, the mean score of participating countries in the first round of TIMSS (1995). TIMSS anchored its scale average in its first round in order to facilitate comparisons over time.

>For mathematics, reading, and science at age 15, the international average is the 2009 PISA mean score of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, which is a group of 34 industrialized countries.

About the Data Sources

PIRLS: The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of fourth-grade students. The most recent PIRLS data are from 2006, when 45 education systems participated. For more information on PIRLS, please visit: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/PIRLS

TIMSS: The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study is an international comparative study of the mathematics and science achievement of fourth- and eighth-grade students. The most recent TIMSS data are from 2007, when 36 education systems participated at grade 4 and 48 education systems participated at grade 8. For more information on TIMSS, please visit: http://nces.ed.gov/TIMSS

PISA: The Program for International Student Assessment is an international comparative study of the capabilities of 15-year-old students in mathematics, reading , and science literacy. The most recent PISA data are from 2009, when 65 education systems participated. For more information on PISA, please visit: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/PISA

Excel File Excel Version
Scale
Score
Grade 4 (PIRLS 2006) Age 15 (PISA 2009)
     
     
600    
     
     
590    
     
     
580    
     
     
570    
  Russian Fed. (565), Hong Kong-Ch. (564)  
     
560 Alberta-Ca. (560), Singapore, Br. Columbia-Ca. (558)  
  Luxembourg (557), Ontario-Ca. (555) Shanghai-Ch. (556)
  Italy, Hungary (551)  
550 Sweden (549), Germany (548)  
  Netherlands, Belgium (Fl.), Bulgaria (547)  
  Denmark (546), Nova Scotia-Ca. (542), Latvia (541)  
540 USA (540), England-UK (539), Austria (538) Rep. of Korea (539)
  Lithuania (537), Ch. Taipei (535) Finland (536)
  Quebec-Ca. (533), New Zealand (532), Slovak Rep. (531) Hong Kong-Ch. (533)
530 Scotland-UK (527)  
    Singapore (526), Canada (524)
  France, Slovenia (522) New Zealand (521)
520 Poland (519) Japan (520)
    Australia (515)
  Spain (513), Israel (512), Iceland (511)  
510   Netherlands (508)
    Belgium (506), Norway (503)
    Estonia, Sweden (501)
500 Rep. of Moldova, PIRLS Scale Avg. (500), Belgium (Fr.) (500) Poland, Iceland, USA (500), Liechtenstein (499)
  Norway (498) Sweden, Germany (497), Ireland, France (496), Ch. Taipei, Denmark (495)
    United Kingdom, Hungary (494), OECD Avg. (493)
490 Romania (489) Portugal (489), Macao-Ch. (487)
    Italy (486), Latvia (484)
    Slovenia, Greece (483), Spain (481)
480   Czech Rep. (478), Slovak Rep. (477)
    Croatia (476), Israel (474)
  Georgia (471) Luxembourg (472)
470 and below Rep. of Macedonia (442), Trinidad and Tobago (436), Islamic Rep. of Iran (421), Indonesia (405), Qatar (353), Kuwait (330), Morocco (323), South Africa (302) Austria (470), Lithuania (468), Turkey (464), Dubai-UAE, Russian Fed. (459), Chile (449), Rep. of Serbia (442), Bulgaria (429), Uruguay (426), Mexico (425), Romania (424), Thailand (421), Trinidad and Tobago (416), Colombia (413), Brazil (412), Rep. of Montenegro (408), Jordan (405), Tunisia (404), Indonesia (402), Argentina (398), Kazakhstan (390), Albania (385), Qatar (372), Panama (371), Peru (370), Azerbaijan (362), Kyrgyz Rep. (314)
 
= Above the international average
 
= Not measurably different from the international average
 
= Below the international average

NOTE: Countries are listed by estimated average scores. Figure is not a scaled representation of countries’ scores. International/OECD average scores and U.S. scores are presented in bold font. While the formulation and construction of assessment scales are the same across the TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA, the content represented by the scale scores is not the same across different ages within a subject domain.

SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2006; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009.

Excel File Excel Version
Scale
Score
Grade 4 (TIMSS 2007) Grade 8 (TIMSS 2007) Age 15 (PISA 2009)
  Hong Kong-Ch. (607)    
       
600 Singapore (599) Ch. Taipei (598), Rep. of Korea (597) Shanghai-Ch. (600)
       
    Singapore (593)  
590      
       
       
580      
  Ch. Taipei (576)    
  MA-USA (572) Hong Kong-Ch. (572)  
570 Japan (568) Japan (570)  
       
      Singapore (562)
560      
  MN-USA (554)   Hong Kong-Ch. (555)
       
550 Kazakhstan (549) MA-USA (547)  
  Russian Fed. (544)   Rep. of Korea (546)
  England-UK (541)   Ch. Taipei (543), Finland (541)
540 Latvia (537)    
  Netherlands (535)   Liechtenstein (536), Switzerland (534)
    MN-USA (532)  
530 Lithuania (530), USA (529) Quebec-Ca. (528) Japan (529), Canada (527)
  Germany (525)   Netherlands (526), Macao-Ch. (525)
  Denmark (523)    
520 Quebec-Ca. (519) Ontario-Ca., Hungary (517) New Zealand (519)
  Australia (516)   Belgium (515), Australia (514)
  Ontario-Ca. (512) England-UK (513), Russian Fed. (512) Germany (513), Estonia (512)
510 Hungary (510), Italy (507) Br. Columbia-Ca. (509), USA (508) Iceland (507)
  Br. Columbia-Ca., Alberta-Ca., Austria (505) Lithuania (506), Czech Rep. (504)  
  Sweden (503), Slovenia (502) Slovenia (501) Denmark (503), Slovenia (501)
500 Armenia,TIMSS Scale Avg. (500) TIMSS Scale Avg. (500), Armenia (499) Norway (498), France, Slovak Rep. (497)
  Slovak Rep. (496) Basque Country-Sp. (499), Australia (496) Austria, OECD Avg. (496), Poland (495)
  Scotland-UK (494), New Zealand (492) Sweden (491) Sweden (494), Czech Rep. (493)
490   Malta (488), Scotland-UK (487) United Kingdom (492), Hungary (490)
  Czech Rep. (486) Serbia (486) Luxembourg (489), Ireland, Portugal (487)
      USA (487), Spain, Italy (483), Latvia (482)
480   Italy (480) Lithuania (477)
    Malaysia (474)  
  Norway (473)    
470 and below Ukraine (469), Georgia (438), Islamic Rep. of Iran (402), Algeria (378), Colombia (355), Morocco (341), El Salvador (330), Tunisia (327), Kuwait(316), Qatar (296), Yemen (224) Norway (469), Cyprus (465), Bulgaria (464), Israel (463), Ukraine (462), Romania (461), Bosnia and Herzegovina (456), Lebanon (449), Thailand (441), Turkey (432), Jordan (427), Tunisia (420), Georgia (410), Islamic Rep. of Iran (403), Bahrain (398), Indonesia(397), Syrian Arab Rep. (395), Egypt (391), Algeria (387), Morocco (381), Colombia (380), Oman (372), Palestinian Nat'l Auth. (367), Botswana (364), Kuwait (354), El Salvador (340), Saudi Arabia (329), Ghana (309), Qatar (307) Russian Fed. (468), Greece (466), Croatia (460), Dubai-UAE (453), Israel (447), Turkey (445), Rep. of Serbia (442), Azerbaijan (431), Bulgaria (428), Romania (427), Uruguay (427), Chile (421), Thailand, Mexico (419), Trinidad and Tobago (414), Kazakhstan (405), Rep. of Montenegro (403), Argentina (388), Jordan (387), Brazil (386), Colombia (381), Albania (377), Tunisia, Indonesia (371), Qatar (368), Peru (365), Panama (360), Kyrgyz Rep. (331)
 
= Above the international average
 
= Not measurably different from the international average
 
= Below the international average

NOTE: Countries are listed by estimated average scores. Figure is not a scaled representation of countries’ scores. International/OECD average scores and U.S. scores are presented in bold font. While the formulation and construction of assessment scales are the same across the TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA, the content represented by the scale scores is not the same across different ages within a subject domain.

SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009.

Excel File Excel Version
Scale
Score
Grade 4 (TIMSS 2007) Grade 8 (TIMSS 2007) Age 15 (PISA 2009)
       
       
600      
       
       
590 Singapore (587)    
       
       
580      
      Shanghai-Ch. (575)
  MA-USA (571)    
570   Singapore (567)  
       
    Ch. Taipei (561)  
560 Ch. Taipei (557)    
  Hong Kong-Ch. (554) MA-USA (556) Finland (554)
  MN-USA (551) Japan (554), Rep. of Korea (553)  
550 Japan (548)   Hong Kong-Ch. (549)
  Russian Fed. (546), Alberta-Ca. (543)    
  Latvia, England-UK (542) England-UK (542) Singapore (542)
540 USA (539), Br. Columbia-Ca. (537) Hungary, Czech Rep. (539) Japan (539), Rep. of Korea (538)
  Hungary (536), Ontario-Ca. (536), Italy (535) Slovenia, MN-USA (538)  
  Kazakhstan (533)   New Zealand (532)
530 Germany (528), Australia (527) Hong Kong-Ch., Russian Fed. (530) Canada (529), Estonia (528), Australia (527)
  Slovak Rep., Austria (526), Sweden (525) Ontario-Ca., Br. Columbia-Ca. (526)  
  Netherlands (523)   Netherlands (522)
520 Slovenia (518), Denmark, Quebec-Ca. (517) USA (520), Lithuania (519) Ch. Taipei, Germany, Liechtenstein (520)
  Czech Rep. (515), Lithuania (514) Australia (515) Switzerland (517), United Kingdom (514)
    Sweden (511) Slovenia (512), Macao-Ch. (511)
510     Poland, Ireland (508), Belgium (507)
    Quebec-Ca. (507) Hungary (503)
  New Zealand (504)   USA (502), OECD Avg. (501)
500 Scotland-UK, TIMSS Scale Avg. (500) TIMSS Scale Avg. (500) Czech Rep., Norway (500), Denmark (499)
    Basque Country-Sp. (498), Scotland-UK (496), Italy (495) France (498), Iceland (496), Sweden (495)
      Austria, Latvia (494), Portugal (493)
490 Armenia (484) Armenia (488), Norway (487) Lithuania (491), Slovak Rep. (490)
    Ukraine (485)  
    Jordan (482) Croatia (486), Luxembourg (484)
480   Italy (480) Lithuania (477)
  Norway (477)   Russian Fed. (478)
  Ukraine (474)    
    Malaysia, Thailand (471)  
470 and below Islamic Rep. of Iran (436), Georgia (418), Colombia (400), El Salvador (390), Algeria (354), Kuwait (348), Tunisia (318), Morocco (297), Qatar (294), Yemen (197) Serbia, Bulgaria (470), Israel (468), Bahrain (467), Bosnia and Herz. (466), Romania (462), Islamic Rep. of Iran (459), Malta (457), Turkey (454), Syrian Arab Rep., Cyprus (452), Tunisia (445), Indonesia (427), Oman (423), Georgia (421), Kuwait (418), Colombia (417), Lebanon (414), Egypt, Algeria (408), Palestinian Nat'l Auth. (404), Saudia Arabia (403), Morocco (402), El Salvador (387), Botswana (355), Qatar (319), Ghana (303) Greece (470), Dubai-UAE (466), Israel (455), Turkey (454), Chile (447), Rep. of Serbia (443), Bulgaria (439), Romania (428), Uruguay (427), Thailand (425), Mexico (416), Jordan (415), Trinidad and Tobago (410), Brazil (405), Colombia (402), Rep. of Montenegro, Argentina, Tunisia (401), Kazakhstan (400), Albania (391), Indonesia (383), Qatar (379), Panama (376), Azerbaijan (373), Peru (369), Kyrgyz Rep. (330)
 
= Above the international average
 
= Not measurably different from the international average
 
= Below the international average

NOTE: Countries are listed by estimated average scores. Figure is not a scaled representation of countries’ scores. International/OECD average scores and U.S. scores are presented in bold font. While the formulation and construction of assessment scales are the same across the TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA, the content represented by the scale scores is not the same across different ages within a subject domain.

SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009.


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education