"This achievement shows that Malaysia has now moved up to the middle one-third countries participating in this worldwide assessment, instead of the bottom one-third as was the case in previous results", he said at a press conference announcing Malaysia's Pisa 2018 achievements here today.
Reading comprehension formed the main focus of this PISA study.
Singapore also had one of the highest proportions of top performing students in all three categories, and one of the lowest proportions of low performing students.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD education and skills director, said: "In the United Kingdom things have been more or less stable, but we have seen a decline in science". "Every dollar spent on education generates a huge return in terms of social and economic progress and is the foundation of an inclusive, prosperous future for all".
About 6,100 randomly selected Japanese students from 183 public and private schools participated in the test.
Thai students still follow their peers in other countries in reading, maths and science in the latest Pisa tests.
According to the report, the Indonesian students' mean reading performance score of 371 in 2018 marks a 21-point decrease from the 2015 score and puts Indonesians far below the OECD average of 487.
"This is about much more than just test-taking - it's about how well we are preparing Australia's students for adult life".
It assesses 15-year-old students across 79 countries in mathematics, reading and science, releasing performance reports on a country-by-country basis.
Bigger European nations languished well behind in the rankings, with Britain in 14th place, Germany 20th and France 23rd.
Grattan Institute's forthcoming report in early 2020 will examine what Australia can do to improve teaching through better workforce structures. It has expanded beyond the 35 member countries.
"Our students should be ranked among the best in the world". More students today consider reading a waste of time (+ 5 percentage points) and fewer boys and girls read for pleasure (- 5 percentage points) than their counterparts did in 2009. They also spend about 3 hours outside of school online on weekdays, an increase of an hour since 2012, and 3.5 hours on weekends.
New Zealand's average scores were 508 for science (down from 513 in 2015), 506 for reading (509 in 2015), and 494 for maths (495 in 2015). That means they can not, for example, convert a price into a different currency.
The best-performing across all three measures was a group of four Chinese provinces - Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
In 2018, mean reading performance in Latvia was above the level observed when the country first participated in PISA in 2000, but below the level observed in 2015.
When it comes to science, about 87 per cent of students in Canada reached Level 2 or higher, meaning they can recognize the correct explanation for familiar scientific phenomena, the organization said.
"I know that they're talking about the classroom environment and bullying and things like that".
Students in mainland China saw a significant jump in reading skills, testing well above the OECD average.
Students who gave positive responses about reading in the questionnaire tended to score higher in that section of the test.
An worldwide survey has concluded that the world's best and brightest students are found in China - or at least in the country's most affluent areas.
Turkish students improved across all three tested disciplines, math, reading and science.
Girls and boys have very different career expectations.