Oecd Education Rankings

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

Oecd Education rankings are released by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is used to compare the performance of education systems in different countries all over the world. By providing information on key indicators, Education at a Glance allows policy makers, the public and the media to understand how well their education systems are performing, identify areas of strength and weakness, set policy targets and monitor progress over time, including across geographic regions. 

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Oecd Education Rankings

Japan is the highest-performing OECD country, with average PISA scores of 529, followed by Estonia with 524 points, and Canada and Finland both with 523 points. The lowest performing OECD country, Mexico, has an average score of 416.

After the release of the latest 2018 rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, earlier in December 2019, there was considerable hand wringing and consternation but the result wasn’t much different. The U.S. still ranks behind the same group of countries, with the exceptions of Israel, which has slipped below, and Sweden, which has risen above the U.S. In math, the U.S. ranks 36th out of the 79 countries and regions that participate in the test.

oecd education rankings by country 2020

It’s worth noting that the U.S. Department of Education considers the U.S. ranking to be 30th, not 36th. That’s because some of the numerically higher scores are so close that the National Center for Education Statistics calculates them to be statistically equivalent. And not all of the 79 geographic entities are countries. In some cases, autonomous regions, such as Hong Kong, participate separately from their countries. The Organisation for International Co-operation and Development (OECD), which runs PISA, also allows partial participation for some nations. The top rank in the world is held by a group of four provinces within China (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang).

OECD rankings

The OECD Better Life Index, created in May 2011 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is an initiative pioneering the development of economic indicators which better capture multiple dimensions of economic and social progress. The platform consists of a dashboard, that provides data and insights into key indicators – measuring areas such as wellbeing, environmental quality, quality of public services and security – alongside an interactive tool Your Better Life Index (BLI), which encourages citizens to create their own indexes by ranking each of the indicators according to the importance in their own lives.

The index and tool were created as part of the OECD Better Life Initiative. This initiative began in 2011 in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, also known as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, whose recommendations sought to address concerns that standard macroeconomic statistics like GDP failed to give a true account of people’s current and future well-being. The initiative’s goals are to develop social and wellbeing indicators that can better reflect growth focusing on four key areas; environmental sustainability, increased wellbeing, falling inequality and systems resilience. The ‘beyond growth’ approach to economic progress is relatively new and the OECD Better Life Initiative promotes the co-production of what we might standardise by facilitating conversation between the public and policymakers.

You can create your own economic index by ranking 11 areas of socio-economic progress by what is important to you, this generates a ranking so you can see how your country compares. You are encouraged to share your indicator with others on the platform to view theirs and discuss your similarities and differences. You can choose to share their data with OECD and will then be asked to provide more demographical data about your situation. The OECD Better Life Initiative then analyses all users input data and reports the findings in a bi-annual report named How’s Life? Well-being. The data used in the report consists of 80+ indicators including measures on inequality and further socio-economic indicators. The findings reflect what is important to citizens, and how their current socio-economic situations reflect in the areas of governance that they prioritise. These insights are then used to guide governments to put well-being at the centre of their policymaking by shedding light on what well-being means to their citizens. In this way, by using the tool citizens can shape public policy.

Current Rankings


Yet to be released


The Better Life Index is not yet comparable over time as its methodology is still being fine-tuned. The OECD advises referring to the Hows Life – Well-being database for a view over time. The data shown below are the current rankings per country and topic for the year 2020.

Each topic is given a score calculated from the indices used to create the topic group, you can find the raw data on the OECD Better Life Index website [7]

The rankings given below are calculated giving an equal weighting of 1 to each well-being topic.

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