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HomeLanguage NewsnewsU.S. Students Outperform International Peers

U.S. Students Outperform International Peers

A new Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report shows that U.S. 15-year-old students scored above average on the 2012 problem solving assessment in comparison to their peers in 43 other education systems. The PISA problem solving assessment, administered on computer, assessed students’ skills in solving problems set in real-life contexts for which a routine solution has not been learned.

Findings include:

•    The U.S. average score in problem solving was 508, which was higher than the OECD average (based on 28 OECD countries) of 500 and the average scores of 22 education systems.

•     Students in 10 education systems — Singapore, Korea, Japan, Macao-China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China, Chinese Taipei, Canada, Australia, and Finland — had higher average scores than U.S. 15-year-olds.

•     Twelve percent of U.S. students were “top performers” (scored at level 5 or above) in problem solving, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 11 percent.

•     Eighteen percent of U.S. students were “low performers” in problem solving (scored below level 2), which was lower than the OECD average of 21 percent.

•     There was no measurable difference in the average problem solving scores of U.S. male and female students.

View the full set of data tables at

PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and managed in the United States by the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

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