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Survey: Chinese students outperforming in reading, math and science

Grade three senior high school students study for the upcoming 2019 National College Entrance Exam
Grade three senior high school students study for the upcoming 2019 National College Entrance Exam in Beijing. Photo: Visual China Group/Getty Images

Chinese students tested better in reading, math and science than students in any other country, according to a triennial study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD).

The big picture: “The quality of their schools today will feed into the strength of their economies tomorrow,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told Bloomberg. Most other OECD countries saw no overall improvement in their students' performances since they were last tested in 2015.

What they found: 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries took a two-hour exam to test their skills in reading, math and science.

  • Chinese students consistently ranked at the top in reading, math and science.
  • American students performed above the OECD average in reading and science, but below in math.
  • Socioeconomic backgrounds can still predict the quality of education a student will likely receive.
  • 1 in 10 disadvantaged students scored in the top quarter of reading performance in their country, "indicating that disadvantage is not destiny," per the survey's findings.
  • On average across OECD countries, girls significantly outperformed boys in reading by 30 points.
  • 17% of immigrant students scored in the top quarter of reading performance.

Worth noting: Some of the countries with the highest-performing education systems recently achieved this status.

Go deeper: Student performance in public schools stalls on Nation's Report Card