OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Australia

Ideas for Australia: Why is Australia falling behind in maths, science and literacy – and what can be done about it?

Sue Thomson, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

This article was originally published on The Conversation as part of the Ideas for Australia series, licensed as Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Read the original article and the conversation it generated.


The overwhelming story presented by international assessment data for Australia is one of an education system in decline. Scores in all international studies are either stagnating or decreasing, while many other countries have proved to be doing significantly better than Australia. Of concern is that much of the change in the scores for Australia is associated with a decrease in the proportion of top achievers – those students in the highest proficiency bands in PISA, for example. However, of equal concern is the students that the system is failing - those students in the lowest achievement bands.