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Accelerating quality improvement continues to be the main challenge for education across Latin America and the Caribbean IDB

While students throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) continue to be among the lowest achievers on international learning assessments, according to the PISA 2015 results released today by the OECD, more countries and students from the region participated than ever before. Countries like Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, and Trinidad and Tobago have joined the list of rapidly-improving education systems.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluates, every three years, what 15-year-old students know and can do in science, reading, and mathematics. 10 countries in the region participated in PISA 2015: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

In the global science rankings of the 72 participating countries and economies led by Singapore (1), Chile heads the list of countries from the region at number 44. Uruguay (47) is next, followed by Trinidad and Tobago (53), Costa Rica (55), Colombia (57) Mexico (58), Brazil (63), and Peru (64). The Dominican Republic concludes the global science ranking.

Half the students in the region are low performers in PISA, which means that they do not possess the essential knowledge and abilities to actively participate in society. Of the 8 million 15-year-old students from participating countries, 5.4 million did not achieve the most basic proficiency level.

“We know that the region has great room for growth” said Emiliana Vegas, Chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank. “But it fills us with hope to see these first results of the efforts made by governments, families, and students.”

While the region continues to improve its performance on the assessments at a relatively rapid rate, it must accelerate its progress to match the growth rates of OECD countries. Peru, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago are among the 10 countries with the fastest rates of improvement in science. Peru also demonstrates consistent improvement in mathematics and reading. Between the last two editions of PISA (2012 to 2015), Peru, Colombia, and Uruguay have been among the countries that improved most quickly, each showing progress equivalent to half a year of schooling.

PISA 2015 also showed that participation in the assessment grew throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, granting greater weight to the results from the region. Not only has the number of participating countries from the region increased, but, within each country, the number of students in the education system who took the test also grew. This demonstrates greater inclusion and highlights the commitment of the region to improve education quality.

To learn more about the PISA results and Latin America and the Caribbean, visit

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

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