PISA study: weaker performance in mathematics, reading and science

December 05, 2023

Young people in Germany are less proficient in mathematics, reading and science as compared to 2018. This is revealed in the new PISA study. The mathematics and reading scores of German students are only at OECD average levels. In many OECD countries the average scores in mathematics and reading skills were lower as compared to the previous PISA study in 2018. The scores in mathematics and natural sciences are now below those of the PISA studies in the 2000s, when those subjects were assessed in detail for the first time (mathematics: PISA 2003; natural sciences: PISA 2006).

Young people in Germany are less proficient in mathematics, reading and science as compared to 2018. This is revealed in the new PISA study. Around one third of the 15-year-olds tested achieved only a very low level of proficiency in at least one of the three subjects. The results confirmed a downward trend already in evidence in the preceding PISA studies. The mathematics and reading scores of German students are only at OECD average levels. They remain above that level only in natural sciences.

The PISA studies are a regular assessments of the ability of 15-year-old students to solve problems in mathematics, reading and science in real-world contexts as they approach the end of compulsory schooling. The current study, coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and conducted in Germany by the Center for International Student Assessment (ZIB) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), was carried out in the spring of 2022.

In many OECD countries the average scores in mathematics and reading skills were lower as compared to the previous PISA study in 2018. Scores were also down in natural sciences, although to a lesser extent.

In Germany the decrease in scores was larger than average in all three subjects. As a result, Germany is now significantly above the OECD average (492 vs. 485 points) only in natural sciences. In mathematics (475 vs. 472 points) and reading (480 vs. 476 points), the results now match the OECD average, which has also fallen in both subjects.

After the first PISA study in 2000, Germany initially achieved improvements in its results and was able to maintain them at a high level. In the most recent PISA rounds, however, there were signs of a negative trend. The scores in mathematics and natural sciences are now below those of the PISA studies in the 2000s, when those subjects were assessed in detail for the first time (mathematics: PISA 2003; natural sciences: PISA 2006). The reading scores of the current study are around the same as in PISA 2000, when that subject was a focal point for the first time.

Only a few OECD countries were able to improve some of their results between 2018 and 2022, for example Japan in reading and Italy, Ireland and Latvia in science. In mathematics, students in Japan and Korea show the highest average performance. The top countries in reading are Ireland, Japan, Korea and Estonia. Japan, Korea, Estonia and Canada have the best results in natural sciences.