Despite promises by regional to leaders to make education a priority, Latin America is not faring well when it comes of improving students' scores in math, science and reading – and the United States is not doing much better, according to a report released earlier this week.
The study by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), included a total of 65 national and regional education systems – eight from Latin America, with Peru coming in dead last in terms of mathematics with a score of 368. The Andean nation also came in last in science and reading with scores of 373 and 384 respectively (1,125 total).
With scores of 423 in math, 441 in reading and 445 in science (1,309), Chile had the best marks of the Latin American countries in each category. In between Peru and Chile were Costa Rica (1,277), Mexico (1,252), Uruguay (1,236), Brazil (1,206), Argentina (1,190) and Colombia (1,178).
The U.S. performance wasn't much to brag about, either, with the country’s students coming in 24th overall in reading (498), 28th in science (497) and 36th in math (481). A sample of students from across the country were tested, but three – Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida – opted to increase student participation in the OECD test, which is known by the acronym PISA (Program for International Assessment).
Massachusetts students had scores among the top worldwide in all three categories, while students in Connecticut excelled in reading and science. In math, the state's students performed on average with their international peers but above average nationally. Florida students performed worst of the three, scoring below the global average in all three subjects and below the U.S. average in math.
"I am tremendously proud of our students for once again performing as global leaders in reading, math and science," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. "Education is the Commonwealth's calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy. We invest in education because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future."
"These results are proof that our teachers are doing an excellent job of preparing our young people to succeed in a global economy," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. "While there is still much work to be done to level the playing field, we clearly have a solid foundation to build upon."
Pulling ahead of the pack are students from Asia – especially those in Shanghai, which was given its own score separate from the rest of China and ranked No. 1 overall in all three subjects with an aggregate score of 1,763.
The results announced are from tests that administered in 2012. The PISA test is given every three years.
The results have led to hand-wringing in many countries, including in the U.S., where scores dropped from 2009 results in all three subjects by a total of 13 points. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the results a "picture of educational stagnation."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.