Top-performing countries, including China, Singapore, Estonia, and Canada, have significantly more students who met baseline proficiency in all three tested subjects (reading, math, and science) on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 compared to the United States. PISA defines the baseline level of proficiency as Level 2 on a six-point scale and the United Nations identified this level as the “minimum level of proficiency” that all children should acquire by the end of secondary education in its Sustainable Development Goals. Ninety-four percent of Chinese students met that standard in reading, math, and science, while nearly a third of U.S. students struggled to meet it across the three subjects. Learn more about the education systems that support student performance in China, Singapore, Estonia, and Canada in our top-performing country profiles.
Note: An earlier graph included incorrect percentages. This version has been updated.