According to freshly released 2012 PISA test results, Estonian pupils rank eleventh in the world in math and reading skills, and tie for fourth to seventh place in natural sciences with Japan, South Korea and Finland.
Organized by OECD, the PISA tests are conducted every three years, assessing the skills of 15-year-old pupils in 65 nations.
Estonia improved on its 2009 scores, when the nation was ranked 13th in reading, 17th in math and ninth in science.
Asian nations picked up the first seven places in math, the topic most highlighted by the report, followed by five European nations, including Estonia and Finland. Latvia was 28th, Lithuania 37th.
The full report featured other statistics, including the happiness of students, in which Estonia was ranked fourth from last, slightly worse than Finland and Latvia. Korean students were the least happy, while the highest percentage of students in Indonesia, Albania and Peru, all at the wrong end of test scores, were said to be happy.
Problems Persist, Says Minister
Estonian Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo said that while the results were pleasing, Estonian schools still face many problems, including the gap between the best and the worst schools.
Aaviksoo said that the report highlighted the fact that, among European countries, Estonia has the least percentage of pupils with weak skills, but that many talented children are not given the chance to fulfill their potential.
In reading skills, girls are ahead of boys by one year on average, according to Aaviksoo.
He said that the country's Russian-language schools are catching up with their Estonian-language counterparts, with their PISA results improving twice as fast over the past six years.