Since 1960, there have been five major international studies of
science and mathematics achievement at the elementary, middle, and secondary school levels. The
studies have been conducted under the auspices of two different nongovernmental research consortia.
More than 30 countries have participated in at least one of the surveys. The United States has been
involved in every one.
Students from the United States have not performed very well on any international achievement study. At the same time, the reality is somewhat less clear than the picture that has been conveyed in the media. Generally, across the surveys, younger American students seem to perform better, relative to their international peers, than those enrolled in the last year of secondary school.
2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results:
USA Rank (out of 74 countries) Math 31 Science 23 Reading 17Source: PISA results for 2009 Wikipedia
Relatively large score increases among 9-year-olds occurred during the 1980s and early 2000s, while 13-year-olds had steadier (but less steep) gains over the 35 years. In each age group, black students narrowed the gaps with whites first observed in 1973.