International results concerning tests in maths, science and reading highlight the need for urgent educational reforms, according to Elizabeth Truss.
The education minister said that England's education system needs to be improved if it is to match those of its international counterparts.
She was speaking after the results for tests in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed England's worsening performance on a global stage over the past several years.
The studies, which took place between May and June 2011, showed England falling in science performance at age ten, from seventh out of 36 jurisdictions in 2007 to 15th out of 50 last year. Although there was a modest rise in reading performance at the age of ten - from 15th out of 40 in 2006 to 11th out of 45 in 2011 - maths performance at ages ten and 14 and science at age 14 were shown to have flattened out.
World leaders in the TIMSS science testing were Korea for age ten and Singapore for age 14; Hong Kong topped the PIRLS for reading at age ten; and Singapore was best in the TIMSS for maths at age ten, with Korea taking the top spot for maths at age 14.
Looking at the strong performance of education systems in South East Asia, the research suggested they are characterised by autonomous schools, rigorous examinations, high levels of accountability and excellent teaching.
Ms Truss said: "The rise in performance in reading is encouraging but there is too long a tail of under-performance. The lack of progress in maths and the decline in science, linked to the removal of compulsory tests for all 11-year-olds, is a real concern.
"That is why we are bringing in new rigorous exams that will be on a par with the best in the world and reforming the curriculum to focus on core arithmetic, algebra and geometry like high-performing jurisdictions."
Posted by Theo Foulds