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Reading Literacy: Average Scores


High and Low Performers

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Figure R2a. Percentage of 15-year-old students performing at PISA reading literacy proficiency levels below level 2 and levels 5 and above, by education system: 2015

data in this figure can be found in the table

Below level 2 Below level 2
Level 5 and above Level 5 and above
! Interpret data with caution. Estimate is unstable due to high coefficient of variation (>30 percent and ≤50 percent).
# Rounds to zero.
‡ Reporting standards not met due to coefficient of variation over 50 percent.
* p<.05. Significantly different from the U.S. percentage at the .05 level of statistical significance.
NOTE: Education systems are ordered by percentage of 15-year-olds in levels 5 and above. To reach a particular proficiency level, a student must correctly answer a majority of items at that level. Students were classified into science proficiency levels according to their scores. Cut scores for each proficiency level can be found in exhibit 1 of this report and in table A-1 available at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/PISA2015/pisa2015highlights_8f.asp. The OECD average is the average of the national percentages of the OECD member countries, with each country weighted equally. Italics indicate non-OECD countries and education systems. B-S-J-G (China) refers to the four PISA participating China provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Results for Massachusetts and North Carolina are for public school students only. Although Argentina, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan participated in PISA 2015, technical problems with their samples prevent results from being discussed in this report. This figure corresponds to figure 4 in Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students in Science, Mathematics, and Reading Literacy in an International Context (NCES 2017-048).
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 2015.

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Table R2b. Percentage of 15-year-old students performing at PISA reading literacy proficiency levels below level 2 and levels 5 and above, by education system: 2015
Education system Below
level 2
  Levels 5
and above
  Education system Below
level 2
  Levels 5
and above
Percent s.e.   Percent s.e.   Percent s.e.   Percent s.e.
OECD average 20.1   0.17   8.3 * 0.11   Greece 27.3 * 1.79   4.0 * 0.47
Singapore 11.1 * 0.52   18.4 * 0.70   Buenos Aires (Argentina) 21.8   2.29   3.8 * 1.09
Canada 10.7 * 0.63   14.0 * 0.74   Bulgaria 41.5 * 1.99   3.6 * 0.47
Finland 11.1 * 0.75   13.7 * 0.72   Slovak Republic 32.1 * 1.14   3.5 * 0.40
New Zealand 17.3   0.85   13.6 * 0.87   Cyprus 35.6 * 0.85   3.1 * 0.34
Korea, Republic of 13.7 * 0.98   12.7 * 0.96   United Arab Emirates 40.4 * 1.20   3.0 * 0.35
France 21.5   0.91   12.5 * 0.74   Vietnam 13.8 * 1.45   2.7 * 0.71
Norway 14.9 * 0.82   12.2 * 0.67   Uruguay 39.0 * 1.11   2.5 * 0.40
Germany 16.2   0.93   11.7   0.70   Trinidad and Tobago 42.5 * 0.90   2.4 * 0.30
Hong Kong (China) 9.3 * 0.76   11.6   0.86   Chile 28.4 * 1.16   2.3 * 0.29
Australia 18.1   0.55   11.0   0.51   Romania 38.7 * 1.86   2.0 * 0.39
Estonia 10.6 * 0.72   11.0   0.65   Qatar 51.6 * 0.49   1.6 * 0.17
Netherlands 18.1   1.03   10.9   0.63   Brazil 51.0 * 1.13   1.4 * 0.25
B-S-J-G (China) 21.9   1.51   10.9   1.29   Montenegro, Republic of 41.9 * 0.73   1.4 * 0.28
Japan 12.9 * 0.98   10.8   0.90   Moldova, Republic of 45.8 * 1.14   1.2 * 0.23
Ireland 10.2 * 0.80   10.7   0.65   Georgia 51.7 * 1.27   1.1 * 0.23
Sweden 18.4   1.09   10.0   0.79   Colombia 42.8 * 1.49   1.0 * 0.16
United States 19.0   1.14   9.6   0.74   Albania 50.3 * 1.92   1.0 * 0.23
Belgium 19.5   0.90   9.3   0.56   Lebanon 70.4 * 1.63   0.8 * 0.25
Israel 26.6 * 1.25   9.2   0.74   Costa Rica 40.3 * 1.44   0.7 * 0.18
United Kingdom 17.9   0.86   9.2   0.64   Turkey 40.0 * 2.00   0.6 !* 0.23
Slovenia 15.1 * 0.58   8.9   0.68   Thailand 50.0 * 1.76   # !* 0.12
Poland 14.4 * 0.78   8.2   0.70   Mexico 41.7 * 1.28   # !* 0.12
Luxembourg 25.6 * 0.58   8.1   0.45   Peru 53.9 * 1.49   # !* 0.10
Czech Republic 22.0   1.10   7.9   0.55   Jordan 46.3 * 1.40   # !* 0.10
Switzerland 20.0   1.10   7.8   0.65   Kosovo 76.9 * 0.89   # *
Portugal 17.2   0.88   7.5 * 0.58   Macedonia, Republic of 70.7 * 0.73    
Austria 22.5 * 1.04   7.2 * 0.57   Indonesia 55.4 * 1.49    
Chinese Taipei 17.2   0.82   6.9 * 0.77   Dominican Republic 72.1 * 1.46    
Macau (China) 11.7 * 0.45   6.7 * 0.55   Tunisia 71.6 * 1.28    
Russian Federation 16.2   1.20   6.6 * 0.60   Algeria 79.0 * 1.55    
Iceland 22.1 * 0.98   6.6 * 0.60                  
Denmark 15.0 * 0.81   6.5 * 0.61                  
Croatia 19.9   1.14   5.9 * 0.54                  
Italy 21.0   1.03   5.7 * 0.48                  
Malta 35.6 * 0.84   5.6 * 0.42                  
Spain 16.2   0.85   5.5 * 0.53   U.S. states and territories              
Lithuania 25.1 * 0.93   4.4 * 0.51   Puerto Rico 50.4 * 3.21   1.2 !* 0.39
Latvia 17.7   0.93   4.3 * 0.47   North Carolina 18.0   1.44   9.6   1.05
Hungary 27.5 * 1.12   4.3 * 0.45   Massachusetts 11.3 * 1.28   14.5 * 1.63
† Not applicable.
# Rounds to zero.
! Interpret data with caution. Estimate is unstable due to high coefficient of variation (>30 percent and ≤50 percent).
‡ Reporting standards not met due to coefficient of variation over 50 percent.
* p<.05. Significantly different from the U.S. percentage at the .05 level of statistical significance.
NOTE: Education systems are ordered by 2015 percentages of 15-year-olds in levels 5 and above. To reach a particular proficiency level, a student must correctly answer a majority of items at that level. Students were classified into reading proficiency levels according to their scores. Exact cut scores are as follows: level 2 and below (a score less than or equal to 484.14); level 5 and above (a score greater than 633.33). Scores are reported on a scale from 0 to 1,000. The OECD average is the average of the national percentages of the OECD member countries, with each country weighted equally. Standard error is noted by s.e. Italics indicate non-OECD countries and education systems. B-S-J-G (China) refers to the four PISA participating China provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Results for Massachusetts and North Carolina are for public school students only. Although Argentina, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan participated in PISA 2015, technical problems with their samples prevent results from being discussed in this report. This table corresponds to figure 4 in Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students in Science, Mathematics, and Reading Literacy in an International Context (NCES 2017-048).
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 2015.