I-03c: International Reading Literacy of 15-Year-Olds (Shares of High and Low Performers), by Jurisdiction, 2015

* In the cases of nations with measurably larger and smaller shares than the United States, the difference is statistically significant at the 5% level. Certain jurisdictions in gray had smaller or larger shares, but whether these differences were attributable not to a sampling error but to actual differences in the levels of performance between those nations and the United States could not be determined with a sufficient level of confidence.

** The OECD describes Level 2 as “a baseline level of proficiency at which students begin to demonstrate the reading literacy competencies that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life” (see PISA 2015 Results: Excellence and Equity in Education, Volume I, page 164).
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, “Reading Literacy: Proficiency Levels,”, accessed 2/23/2017. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (

“The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years. First conducted in 2000, the major domain of study rotates between mathematics, science, and reading in each cycle. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem solving. By design, PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES. The next assessment is in 2015.” (Excerpted from the National Center for Education Statistics’ online PISA overview). According to OECD, “The tasks related to each proficiency level are described according to the three processes that students use to answer the questions. These three processes are classified as access and retrieve (skills associated with finding, selecting and collecting information), integrate and interpret (processing what is read to make sense of a text), and reflect and evaluate (drawing on knowledge, ideas or values external to the text).” The combined scoring scale for reading literacy (and also math and science literacy) ranges from 0 to 1,000. See OECD, PISA 2012 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science, vol. 1, rev. ed. (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2014), 190.

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