Several countries that consistently top U.S. performance on the Program for International Student Assessment also have more, but American schools are making progress on that front, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers PISA.
The study found that in 2009, countries often held up as educational role models, including Finland, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, had significantly higher PISA reading performance as well as smaller socioeconomic gaps. The socioeconomic status of the 15-year-old test-takers was measured using an index of parents’ education and careers, as well as educational and other resources available in the children’s homes.
From 2000 to 2009, the United States reduced the gap in reading performance between students of higher- and lower-socioeconomic status, but its students’ overall scores on PISA did not improve significantly. Some other countries such as Germany and Chile significantly improved both overall performance and educational equity during that time.
A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as International Comparisons