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Selected Findings from PISA 2012

U.S. Performance in Mathematics Literacy

  • Percentages of top performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in mathematics literacy ranged from 55 percent in Shanghai-China to nearly 0 percent in Colombia and Argentina. In the United States, 9 percent of 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was lower than the OECD average of 13 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 27 education systems, higher than 22 education systems, and not measurably different than 13 education systems. The percentage of top performers in mathematics in the United States overall (9 percent) was higher than the state of Florida (6 percent), but lower than Massachusetts (19 percent) and Connecticut (16 percent) (figure M1a, table M1b).
  • In mathematics literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 4 percent in Shanghai-China to 76 percent in Indonesia. In the United States, 26 percent of 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was higher than the OECD average of 23 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 29 education systems, lower than 26 education systems, and not measurably different than 9 education systems. The percentage of low performers in mathematics in the United States overall (26 percent) was higher than the states of Connecticut (21 percent) and Massachusetts (18 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (30 percent) (figure M1a, table M1b).
  • Average scores in mathematics literacy ranged from 613 in Shanghai-China to 368 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 481, which was lower than the OECD average of 494. The U.S. average was lower than 29 education systems, higher than 26 education systems, and not measurably different than 9 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the states of Massachusetts (514) and Connecticut (506), but higher than Florida (467) (table M4).

U.S. Performance in Science Literacy

  • Percentages of top-performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in science literacy ranged from 27 percent in Shanghai-China and 23 percent in Singapore to nearly 0 percent in eight education systems. In the United States, 7 percent of 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 8 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 167 education systems, higher than 27 education systems, and not measurably different than 165 education systems. The percentage of top performers in science in the United States overall (7 percent) was lower than the states of Massachusetts (14 percent) and Connecticut (13 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (5 percent) (figure S1a, table S1b).
  • In science literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 3 percent in Shanghai-China and 5 percent in Estonia to 67 percent in Indonesia and 68 percent in Peru. In the United States, 18 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 18 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 21 education systems, lower than 29 education systems, and not measurably different than 14 education systems. The percentage of low performers in science in the United States overall (18 percent) was higher than the states of Connecticut (13 percent) and Massachusetts (11 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (21 percent) (figure S1a, table S1b).
  • Average scores in science literacy ranged from 580 in Shanghai-China to 373 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 497, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 501. The U.S. average was lower than 22 education systems, higher than 29 education systems, and not measurably different than 13 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the states of Massachusetts (527) and Connecticut (521), but not measurably different than Florida (485) (table S2).

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U.S. Performance in Reading Literacy

  • Percentages of top performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in reading literacy ranged from 25 percent in Shanghai-China and 21 percent in Singapore to nearly 0 percent in 3 education systems. In the United States, 8 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 8 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 14 education systems, higher than 33 education systems, and not measurably different than 12 education systems. The percentage of top performers in reading in the United States overall (8 percent) was higher than the state of Florida (6 percent), but lower than Massachusetts (16 percent) and Connecticut (15 percent)(figure R1a, table R1b).
  • In reading literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 3 percent in Shanghai-China to 60 percent in Peru. In the United States, 17 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 18 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 14 education systems, lower than 33 education systems, and not measurably different than 17 education systems. The percentage of low performers in reading in the United States overall (17 percent) was higher than the state of Massachusetts (11 percent), but not measurably different than Connecticut (13 percent) and Florida (17 percent) (figure R1a, table R1b).
  • Average scores in reading literacy ranged from 570 in Shanghai-China to 384 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 498, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 496. The U.S. average was lower than 19 education systems, higher than 34 education systems, and not measurably different than 11 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the U.S. states Massachusetts (527) and Connecticut (521), but not measurably different than Florida (492) (table R2).

Eighteen education systems had higher average scores than the United States in all three subjects. The 18 education systems are: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao-China, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Shanghai-China, Singapore, and Switzerland. The U.S. states Massachusetts and Connecticut also had higher average scores than the United States in all three subjects (tables M4, S2, and R2).

U.S. Performance Over Time

  • The U.S. average mathematics, science, and reading literacy scores in 2012 were not measurably different from average scores in previous PISA assessment years with which comparisons can be made (2003, 2006 and 2009 for mathematics; 2006, and 2009 for science; and 2000, 2003, and 2009 for reading) (table T1).

U.S. Performance on Computer-Based Assessments

  • On the computer-based mathematics literacy assessment (administered in 32 education systems), average scores ranged from 566 in Singapore and 562 in Shanghai-China to 397 in Colombia. U.S. 15-year-old students had an average score of 498, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 497. Twelve education systems had higher average scores, 8 had lower average scores, and 11 had average scores that were not measurably different than the United States (table CM2).
  • On the computer-based reading literacy assessment (administered in 32 education systems), average scores ranged from 567 in Singapore to 396 in Colombia. U.S. 15-year-old students had an average score of 511, which was higher than the OECD average of 497. Seven education systems had higher average scores, 17 had lower average scores, and 7 had average scores that were not measurably different than the United States (table CR2).

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