Scottish education maintains international standing

Global study of reading, maths and science assessments.

The latest global study of education performance across more than eighty countries reveals Scotland has maintained its international standing.

The 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study shows that in Scotland performance in reading was above the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) average, with results in maths and science in line with the average.

These results reflect the cohort of young people who experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PISA 2022 results for Scotland show:

  • reading performance was above the OECD average and higher than 24 other countries
  • maths was similar to the OECD average
  • science performance was similar to the OECD average

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said:

“As is well understood, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our young people and their experience of learning and teaching. PISA demonstrates this impact across the majority of countries participating. Whilst every country in the UK has seen a reduction in its PISA scores across maths and reading between 2018 and 2022, there will be key learning for the Scottish Government and COSLA to address jointly in responding. 

“Since PISA was conducted, wider evidence from both the 2023 national qualification results and the most recent literacy and numeracy data for primary, show clear evidence of an ongoing recovery which we are determined to build on. Our participation in PISA provides valuable information to support educational improvement; that will be further strengthened by our decision earlier this year to re-join the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLs) studies.

“I will provide Parliament with a full update next week, reflecting on both PISA and the 2023 national literacy and numeracy data, which is based on teacher judgement.” 


The OECD will publish the Programme International Student Assessment (PISA) study on Tuesday 5 December at 10am. Media can register for access to this publication, under Tuesday embargo, via Media advisory - PISA 2022 - OECD

A Scottish Government statistical news release and summary report of Scottish findings will publish on the Scottish Government website on Tuesday 5 December at around 10am.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an assessment of 15 year-olds’ skills in mathematics, reading and science. Eighty-one countries and around 690,000 students participated in PISA 2022. All four nations of the UK participated. The survey was carried out in Scotland between 18 October and 22 December 2022, with around 3,300 students across 117 schools taking part.

The 2021/22 Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (ACEL) data showed a single year record increase in the proportion of primary school pupils achieving the expected levels of literacy and numeracy.

The 2022/23 Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (ACEL) data will be published on 12 December 2023.

In 2023 overall pass rates for National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers were above those pre-pandemic in 2019. 


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