Latest International Test Shows American Performance Is . . . About the Same as Always

The results of the latest PISA test are out, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a picture:

The PISA test is administered by the OECD every three years to 15-year-olds, and roughly speaking American kids have been doing about the same on it for a couple of decades. However, what’s unique about PISA is that it’s an international test, which means we get to compare ourselves to other countries and then wail about how poorly we’re doing. Here are our scores on the reading test compared to a small subset of our peer countries:

Not too bad! Canada is the outlier here, but we’re at the top end of the cluster of other countries. Now here’s math:

Not so good! Japan is the unsurprising winner, and the US is bringing up the rear as it usually does. PISA’s approach to math is a little unusual, so every three years there’s a tedious discussion about whether this is the reason American kids don’t do very well even though they do fine on other math tests. Personally I don’t know. But we sure seem to fill up Silicon Valley and Wall Street with quants and coders every year.

As always when I venture into OECD territory, I conclude that the whole test is a sham and the real test is whether or not you can figure out how to use the OECD’s data tools. I’ll give myself a B- this time around. However, you can also browse around the results on the Department of Education’s site, which includes comprehensive league tables that compare the US to the entire set of other countries that participate in PISA. Good luck!

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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