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The latest PISA report (Program for International Student Assessment) was presented on December 3rd, 2013 and includes results from the fifth edition of the study, performed in 2012, which analyzed the academic performance of young people from 65 countries. The results of these exams, initiated in 2000 and administered on a tri-annual basis, are intended to evaluate and compare the educational systems in OCDE (Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation) member countries.

The exams measure academic performance in three areas: reading comprehension, math, and science. In this edition, math was the principal focus of the exams. Students demonstrated their aptitudes in a two-hour test during which they solved problems based on real life situations, showcasing the knowledge and skills they had obtained during the school year. For the first time, financial competency evaluations were included in this edition if the country elected to measure them; analyzing students’ understanding of these fields is vital to evaluating the personal, social, and economic well-being of a society.

The results of the close to 510,000 15-year-old students who participated in the exam provide answers to diverse questions about the evolution of educational systems during the last few years, as well as the differences in mathematics skills between student groups.

In the latest PISA report, the figures indicate that Shanghai, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong, performed the best on the exam. The highest marks in Europe were achieved by Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Holland. Some countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, maintained similar results to the previous edition of the PISA report while others, like Qatar, improved notably. As in previous editions, China was criticized for its decision to only allow two regions of the country to participate in the exam.

According to the report, the average score in Spain continues to fall below the average of other OECD members, with no signs of improving. Among European countries, students in Spain obtained the lowest scores in reading comprehension and science, performing only slightly better than Portugal and Italy in the latter. According to measurements taken by the OECD, its drop-out rate is still nearly twice that of other countries, falling around 29%.

La gráfica que se presenta muestra los resultados de los países más representativos de Europa. A continuación se presentan gráficas que comparan los sistemas educativos de seis países de Occidente con la media total del estudio PISA de los miembros de la OCDE.

This chart shows the results of the most representative countries in Europe. Below, we will see more in-depth graphs that compare the educational systems of six occidental countries to the total average obtained by OCDE member countries in the PISA study.


Compared to the average, the United States’ results indicate that the country performs above average in Reading comprehension (34th) and slightly below average in mathematics (36th place) and science (28th).


Neighboring the US, Canada’s results evidence its students’ high academic performance. As the graph shows, Canadian students performed above average in all three areas. In the first section, they achieved 13th place, in the second 7th, and in the third they achieved 10th place.


In this edition, the United Kingdom improved their results as compared to the former report. Their math average remained the same but they improved their position in both science and reading comprehension. They were ranked 26th in mathematics, 23rd in reading comprehension, and 20th in science.


Among European countries, Switzerland occupies 2nd place. Its students performed notably above average in Mathematics (9th), science (19th), and reading comprehension (17th). The results of the latest study are quite similar to those of the former, indicating that Switzerland is maintaining its impressive academic performance.


Similar to Switzerland, Germany also ranked much higher than average and has shown a clear ability to maintain academic standards over the years. They ranked 16th in mathematics, 20th in reading comprehension, and 12th in science.


rance also achieved good results in the PISA study, obtaining slightly below average results in science (26th), but ranking 25th in mathematics and 21st in reading comprehension.