The United States, while still the most powerful country in the world, surprisingly does not feature in the list of 15 smartest countries in reading comprehension. The PISA exams make for stark reading, especially for the US, which prides itself on being the center of excellence in all criteria.
The PISA test is a test administered by the OECD, which is comprised mainly of developed countries. However, the tests aren’t exclusive to the countries who belong to the organization; over 150 countries take part, sending their students, around the age of 15, to take the test. The test consists of three skills: reading, science, and maths. Unfortunately, US students did not perform well in either of the three. Does this indicate the downfall of the only superpower in the world? Is the number one economy about to crumble? In a word, no.
The US has actually never really done well in the tests, which have been administered since 2000. However, that has not affected its reputation, has it? In fact, it is in that time period that a guy started a little-known company known as Facebook, which would change the social media landscape forever. So how does the US still have brilliant minds who can’t get a good score to save their lives? Well, America is home to well over 300 million people, and even if 10 percent of the population is extremely bright, that still amounts to 30 million people! The PISA test might provide an indicator, but it does not show the complete picture, mainly because what it actually proves is that the average student in the US is not as smart as the average student in these 15 smartest countries in reading comprehension. The brilliant students may also be in the US along with the average ones, and they are the ones on whom the country relies. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the US’s position in the world is not under any threat whatsoever. And a major reason for this is the emphasis on research and development in the country, which ranks sixth in a comparison of countries by percentage of economic output dedicated solely to research and development.
This does not mean that the US should completely disregard the test results, as they do give a pretty good idea about the average standard of education in the country as opposed to other countries. After all, the US lagged considerably behind its own neighbor, Canada, and if you want to learn more about the reasons for this disadvantage, you should head on over to PISA Exam Proves Canadian Kids are Smarter Than American Kids in Math, Reading and Science.
Our list is based on the reading scores provided in the PISA test, and is dominated by Europe, which is probably the most advanced continent in the world.