Portugal holds one of the highest school dropout rates in the world with 37.1 percent of students abandoning school before graduation — but a recent report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC) revealed that Portuguese 15-year-olds students made the biggest overall improvement in reading, math and scientific skills from 2006 to 2009 compared with students from other developed countries.
In terms of reading skills, Portugal moved from 25th place in the Pisa ranking of 27 countries in 2000, to 17th position in the equivalent ranking of 33 countries in 2009, ahead of the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy.
The tests showed Portuguese students had made similar improvements in math and scientific literacy to rank close to the OECD average, a sharp improvement from a previous position close to the bottom of the table
Yet the Wall Street Journal reported recently that school dropout is endemic in Portugal, the poorest countryand the least educated in Western Europe. Just 28 percent of the Portuguese population between 25 and 64 has completed high school — compared with 85 percent in Germany, 89 percent in the Czech Republic and 89 percent in the U.S.