Asia is the center of high performance in school education, with students in Shanghai outperforming their counterparts in Australia, the United States and Europe by up to three years in mathematics, said a report released on Friday by Australia's Grattan Institute.
The Grattan report, Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia, revealed that although Australia and many Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries had substantially increased school funding in recent years, the results were disappointing.
The report said large increases in expenditure had occurred in Australia, yet student performance had fallen.
"In Shanghai, the average 15-year-old mathematics student is performing at a level two to three years above his or her counterpart in Australia, the U.S.A. and Europe," said Ben Jensen, school education program director at the institute, in a statement.
"The lesson from Asia is that the only way to improve students' learning is by improving teaching," he said.
"Reforming teaching is about behavioral and cultural change, which means changing what teachers do, day in, day out, in every school."
Based on a series of tests, the report said four of the world's five highest-performing school systems were in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Shanghai.
"These four systems focus on the things that are known to matter in the classroom, including a relentless, practical focus on learning and the creation of a strong culture of teacher education, research, collaboration, mentoring, feedback and sustained professional development," the report said.