Malaysia remains stuck at the bottom fifth among 65 countries tested for mathematics, science and reading and also ranked poorer overall compared with its neighbours Thailand and Singapore.
In the latest International Student Assessment (Pisa) results for 2012, Malaysia was placed 52nd overall. Thailand was ranked 50th while Singapore came in at second place.
China (Shanghai) topped the poll, which tested a sample 510,000 students worldwide, aged 15 and 16 years for their knowledge of mathematics, science and their reading ability.
Among Asian countries, only Indonesia ranked lower than Malaysia overall.
Pisa 2012 is the programme's fifth survey and the focus this year was on mathematics.
Slight improvement in mathematics
Although Malaysian students recorded a slight improvement in mathematics compared with the 2009 study, increasing their score to 421 from 404, it is still far below the 494 average score for OECD countries. Thailand scored 427 and Indonesia scored 375 in the same survey.
At the same time, the reading abilities of our students suffered the most, charting an embarrassing 398 compared with Thailand's score of 441 score.
The overall OECD average of 496. Malaysia scored 414 in 2009.
In the science test, Malaysian students recorded 420 against the OECD average of 501, and again showed a decline from three years ago. Thailand's score was 444.
In the Pisa survey method, the students took a paper-based test that lasted two hours.
The tests were a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions, conducted in groups and based on a passage setting out a real-life situation. The entire test took 390 minutes.