The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that Massachusetts students' reading and science scores place the state in a league with the top-scoring nations in the world.
If Massachusetts were a nation, it would share the top spot in reading with eight other nations worldwide. In science, the state's students and those from 10 nations came in second, trailing only students from Singapore. In math, 11 other nations were ahead of the Commonwealth. The results come from the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international survey designed to assess how well 15-year-old students can apply their knowledge and skills.
"I'm thrilled to see Massachusetts students rank among the top performers in the world in reading, math and science," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The Commonwealth is proud of our longstanding commitment to education, and as we continue to compete in a global economy, it is great to see our students perform well on an international stage."
Last year, over 500,000 students participated in PISA, including more than 5,700 students from the United States. Massachusetts was one of two U.S. states that participated in order to receive state-level results that can be compared to the results of other participating systems. A random, representative sample of approximately 1,600 students from 49 Massachusetts public schools took a two-hour, computer-based PISA test between September and November 2015.
Students from Massachusetts outscored students from the other participating state, North Carolina, as well the nation as a whole.
"These results are evidence of what many of us already know: Many Massachusetts schools offer a world-class education," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "I am grateful to all the teachers and families who do so much for our students, and I know educators will join me as we work to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth has access to a first-class education.
"Of particular note is the fact that only 14 percent of the variation in our students' science scores is attributable to family economic background. Eighty-six percent is determined by instruction and district practices," Commissioner Chester said.
The Program for International Student Assessment, first conducted in 2000, is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. In this country, PISA is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Results are reported both in terms of average scaled scores and the percent of students reaching selected proficiency levels. Average scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 1,000. There are six proficiency levels in mathematics and science and seven levels in reading. In all three subjects, students reaching level 5 or above demonstrate higher-level skills and are considered "top performers" in the subject. Students scoring below level 2, which the OECD considers baseline proficiency, are referred to as "lower performers."
Other 2015 PISA results for Massachusetts include:
For additional information about PISA, visit the National Center for Education Statistics' website at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/.
In addition to PISA, OECD also offers the OECD Test for Schools, an international benchmarking assessment for individual schools. The voluntary, computer-based test takes three hours and 15 minute of testing time for 50 to 85 15-year-old students at a single school and assesses a school's performance and students' problem solving and critical thinking skills.