Here are PISA scores for 15-year-olds as typically presented by politicians. When you see these, it’s easier for Americans to be more alarmist (oh no, others are ahead of us!).
Percentage of high scorers
But we also should look at the data another way.
Number of high scorers
Our size benefits us, and we need to remember that too. [of course we have many more LOW scorers as well…]
More data at American Achievement in International Perspective.
does the fate of the nation rest on how well 9- and 13-year-olds bubble in answer sheets? I don’t think so. Neither does British economist, S. J. Prais. We look at the test scores and worry about the nation’s economic performance. Prais looks at the economic performance and worries about the validity of the test scores: “That the United States, the world’s top economic performing country, was found to have school attainments that are only middling casts fundamental doubts about the value and approach of these [international assessments].”
Gerald Bracey via http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/standardized-tests/so-what-if-the-us-is-not-no-1.html