Migrant children trumped Australian-born kids while girls dragged down the national performance in maths, the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, released in Paris last night, reveals.
Australia's maths performance dropped the equivalent of half a year of schooling between 2003 and 2012.
And rowdy classrooms and bullying are more common in Australia than overseas, the report
China tops the latest league table of 65 countries in maths, science and literacy.
The average 15-year-old student from Shanghai is nearly two years ahead in science, and a year and a half ahead in maths, than a typical Australian teen.
Four out of 10 Australian students flunked the national baseline level for mathematical literacy - compared to just over one in 10 in Shanghai and two in 10 in Singapore.
At least one in three Aussie students fell below the national baseline level for reading and science.
The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) called on governments to "act now to stop the slide''.
The ACER director of educational monitoring and research, Sue Thomson - who wrote the Australian chapter of the PISA report - said Australia now has fewer top-performing students, and more at the bottom.
She said the reading results showed Australian students were illiterate in a practical sense.
"It's not saying they're totally illiterate or innumerate,'' she said.
"But they don't necessarily have the skills they need to participate fully in adult life.''
A year after former prime minister Julia Gillard set the goal for Australia to rank among the top five nations for reading, maths and science by 2025, the latest PISA report shows Australia has fallen further down the ladder.
WHY HAVE EDUCATION STANDARDS FALLEN? COMMENT BELOW
As the debate over school funding continues, the results also reflect how increased spending on education has failed to arrest the slide of other countries, including the United Kingdom, which despite an increase of billions of dollars in funding is producing high school graduates who trail almost every other developed country.
Australia still performs above average for developed countries within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - but its ranking has dived over the decade.
Poland has now leapfrogged Australia in maths, helping push Australia from 11th place 2003 to 19th in 2012.
Australian teens came fourth in PISA's world literacy rankings in 2003, trailing only Finland, Korea and Canada.
But they now rank an equal 13th with New Zealand.
The ranking for science fell from 6th place in 2006, to 16th place in 2012.
Australian girls' performance in maths has fallen to the OECD average - dragging down Australia's result.
But boys are a year behind girls in literacy levels at the age of 15.
PISA exposes an educational underclass in Australia - with a two and a half year gap between the performance of students from poor or indigenous families and those from well-off households.
Dr Thomson said taxpayer funds should be targeted to disadvantaged students.
"Just putting more money in won't work, but targeting money will work,'' she said.
Dr Thompson said Asian education systems, such as Singapore, gave more remedial attention to children lagging at primary school so they did not fall behind.
The PISA report shows that migrant students performed best in the Australian test.
Even in English literacy, 14 per cent of foreign-born students were top performers, compared to 10 per cent of Australian-born students.
Indigenous students or those living in remote areas were twice as likely to do worst in the PISA tests.
Students from wealthy families were five times more likely than the poorest students to excel.
But results also varied widely within schools, between classes.
"A larger-than-average within-school variance means that, for Australian students, it matters more which class they are allocated to than which school they attend,'' the report says.
"(However) the choice of school still has a significant impact on outcomes.''
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne - who this week pledged to give the States and Territories an extra $2.8bn in funding for schools over the next four years - said Australia's results had declined despite a 44 per cent increase in education spending over the past decade.
"These results are the worst for Australia since testing began and shows that we are falling behind our regional neighbours,'' he said.
"For all the billions (Labor) spent on laptops and school halls there is still no evidence of a lift in outcomes for students.''
Australian students also reported a higher frequency of noise and disorder, and teachers having to wait for students to quieten down, than the OECD average.
More than 40 per cent of Australian students reported that "family demands'' interfered with their school work.
One in five students felt they did not belong, were not happy or were not satisfied at school.
Australian Greens spokeswoman for schools, Senator Penny Wright attacked the Abbott government for handing the States "no strings attached'' schools funding.
"It is deplorable that in the 21st century, Indigenous students are two and a half years behind non-indigenous students, and that kids in remote areas are as much as 18 months behind children in the city,'' she said.
The Australian Education Union blasted the results as a "wake-up call'' for the Abbott government to increase funding to schools in poor areas, and set higher entry standards for teachers.
Nearly 15,000 Australian students aged 15, from 775 schools, were selected at random to take the PISA test last year.
More than 51,000 students in 65 developed countries took the test.
news.com.au 4 Dec 2013
Nothing really new here, as this is a policy that is going ahead as planned.
The children (of the cannon fodder), are supposed to be dumbed down, by whatever means necessary, as they grow up to be stupid adults, who are easier to control.