PISA Results Demonstrate Importance of College- and Career-Ready Agenda for All U.S. Students

Monday, December 6, 2010Printer-friendly version



Sandy Boyd, (202) 419-1542, sboyd@achieve.org

WASHINGTON – December 7, 2010 – The just-released Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results should spur states, districts and schools to push forward on education reforms grounded in college and career readiness for all students, announced Achieve. Those results show that 15 year olds in the United States were, at best, "middle of the pack," when compared to their peers in OECD countries, scoring 17th in reading, 23rd in science and, with a below average score, 31st in math. In all categories, students in Shanghai, South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong-China and Canada outperformed U.S. 15 year olds. Especially disturbing is the fact that even the top performers in the United State do not perform as well as other countries' top performers - and the United States has more students performing at the lowest level compared to other developed countries.

"These results show the importance of states continuing to lead on the college- and career-ready agenda so that we can graduate students ready to compete against their global peers. Today’s PISA results demonstrate the urgency of that work," said Achieve president Michael Cohen.

According to Cohen, 43 states took an important step forward this past year by adopting the state-led and developed Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of K-12 internationally benchmarked, college- and career-ready standards in English and math that will ensure all high school students graduate ready for their next steps. "Adopting the CCSS is an important step forward, but good standards alone will not improve student performance on PISA or any other exam. The PISA results today should serve as an important reminder that states and districts need to stay the course to achieve the promise of the CCSS by ensuring that the standards are implemented in every classroom, for the benefit of every student."

Beyond implementing standards, Cohen noted that states and districts must also ensure that all of their policies - including graduation requirements, and assessment and accountability systems - support the goal of graduating all students ready to succeed in college and careers.

"These results are a timely reminder that the work of states, districts and schools has significant implications, not just for the future of individual students, but for the long-term viability of the U.S. economy and our ability to compete and lead on the world stage. This must be a priority not just for those already working on the agenda but for the nation as a whole. States, districts and schools that have committed to this agenda need considerable support in order to succeed," concluded Cohen.

Administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the PISA measures the performance of 15 year olds around the world in reading, mathematics, science and problem solving. All OECD member countries participate, as do 30 plus non-OECD countries. PISA is administered every three years and has a different main area of study in each cycle. The 2009 PISA results released today include results for math, science and reading with reading as the major area of study this year.

To learn more about Achieve's college- and career-ready agenda,visit www.achieve.org.

Download this news statement in printer-friendly PDF format.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents selected findings from the U.S. perspective here.

Read the full PISA results here.

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Created in 1996 by the nation's governors and corporate leaders, Achieve is an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit education reform organization based in Washington D.C. that helps states raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Achieve is leading the effort to make college and career readiness a national priority so that the transition from high school graduation to postsecondary education and careers is seamless. In 2005 Achieve launched the American Diploma Project Network. Starting with 13 original states, the Network has now grown to include 35 states educating nearly 85 percent of all U.S. public school students. Through the ADP Network, governors, state education officials, postsecondary leaders and business executives work together to improve postsecondary preparation by aligning high school standards, assessments, graduation requirements and accountability systems with the demands of college and careers. Achieve partnered with NGA and CCSSO on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and a number of its staff served on writing and review teams. More recently, Achieve was selected to manage the PARCC assessment consortia. The 25 state PARCC consortia was awarded Race to the Top assessment funds to create next generation assessments in math and English aligned to the CCSS. For more information about the work of Achieve, www.achieve.org.