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You are reading: Australia’s PISA slump is big news but what’s the real story?

Written by Stewart Riddle (USQ), Bob Linguard (UQ), and Sam Sellar (UQ) for The Conversation

The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results out today will no doubt see shock headlines about Australia’s falling education standards and our failing school system.

PISA – which tests a global sample of 15-year olds in maths, science and reading – has been described as the world’s most important test and has a growing influence on educational policy around the globe.

The coordinated international release is now a major media event for education policy makers and governments around the world. In the US, PISAday.org will be live-streaming analysis and policy implications. And the OECD Deputy Director for Education, Andreas Schleicher, will be hosting a worldwide webinar.

According to these latest results, Australia has performed equal 10th in reading, equal 8th in science and equal 17th in mathematics. On each indicator, Australia performs well above the OECD average and is considered to be a “high-quality, high-equity” education system.

Yet, while the media will lament Australia’s slip in the rankings, there is a much more important story to be told around issues of equity and access in Australian education.

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