A global report on educational performance shows Australian 15-year-olds are getting worse at maths, science and reading.
About half a million students from 72 countries took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, including more than 14,000 Australian children.
Australia was significantly outperformed by nine countries, ranking just below New Zealand, well below Japan and Canada, and just above the United Kingdom and Germany.
Singapore’s students ranked highest.
Dr Sue Thompson from the Australian Council for Education Research collected the Australian data and said local academic performance was in “absolute decline”.
“The proportion of high achievers is decreasing and the proportion of low achievers is increasing,” she said.
“Basically what’s happening there is everything’s sliding backwards if you like — our strong kids aren’t as strong as they were and our weak kids are actually weaker than they were.”
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the country could not afford to “continue to slip behind”.
“Our children are no longer learning at the same rates through their school education as they used to and that is obviously unacceptable to governments, as it would be to parents, teachers and everybody across Australia,” he said.
NT and Tasmania below OECD average
The Australian Capital Territory topped the rankings with Western Australia not far behind.
Only the Northern Territory and Tasmanian students ranked below the average of the 35 OECD countries including places like Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.