By any measure, Poland has made remarkable education progress since the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the most recent 2012 international tests of 15-year-olds, known as PISA tests, Poland ranked 9th in reading and 14th in math among all 65 countries and sub-regions that took the test. It used to be on par with the United States, a mediocre performer. In math, for example, Poland gained 2.6 points a year between 2003 and 2012 while the rest of the world, on average, remained unchanged.
And on Sept. 9, 2014, when the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its annual indicators, “Education at a Glance 2014,” another important indicator appeared: Poland’s college graduation rate is soaring. In 2012, 25 percent of Poland’s adults held a college degree, up from only 11 percent in 2000. At that rate, it could soon eclipse the United States, where more than 40 percent of adults have a college degree (this includes two-year degrees).
“Poland is an interesting case study,” said Andreas Schleicher, director of education at the OECD. “It used to be modest. It is now at the frontier, in little more than a decade.”