Global education report shows decline in student performance

A global report into school education shows Australia's ranking has climbed, but students from disadvantaged backgrounds are worse off.
High school students

A global report into school education shows Australia’s ranking has climbed, but students from disadvantaged backgrounds are worse off.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tracks global education outcomes based on data from almost 700,000 students globally.

Its latest report shows overall student results have declined since 2018.

What is PISA?

PISA is an exam conducted every three years by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). The latest exam was delayed because of COVID-19.

This year’s exam involved 690,000 15-year-olds from 81 countries. It assesses that age group because 15 is when most students around the world are nearing the end of their compulsory education.

The exam is designed to test student aptitude across three key areas of science, maths, and reading.

Global decline

The average score among all 81 countries was lower in 2022 compared to 2018.

According to PISA’s authors, the COVID-19 pandemic is only “partially” to blame. Science and reading levels had been in decline before 2020.

The report also said there was no clear link between countries where schools were closed for extended periods due to public health orders and falling test results.


More than 13,400 students in Australia sat the PISA exam last year, achieving higher results than 59 countries including New Zealand and Germany.

Overall, Australia’s performance was considered strong. However, Australian students in 2022 received lower scores in reading and maths than 2018 students.

Singapore was the highest-performing country, while Cambodia ranked the lowest.


The gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students has widened between 2018 and 2022. Nearly half of Australian students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds performed poorly in maths.

Among First Nations students, 47% of results were considered low-performing compared to 19% of non-First Nations students.

Private school students generally achieved higher results than those from Government-funded schools.

Research has also found a massive funding shortfall for Australian public schools compared to private.


Education Minister Jason Clare said the results showed First Nations students are about four years of education behind non-Indigenous students, while students from lower socioeconomic status families are five years behind.

Clare said the Government is determined to “fix this education gap”.

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