The focus of this year's round of tests was reading and the UAE has gone up two places from 48th to 46th place since the tests were last conducted in 2015. The country also went up two places in mathematics from 47th to 45th place and up one place in science from 46th to 45th place.
UAE schools, however, stand well short of the target set by the country's National Agenda which calls for it to rank among the top 20 in PISA by 2021. Although private schools in the UAE have taken part in PISA since 2009 the UAE didn't start to take part in the full assessment until 2012, so this is the third round of testing in which both public and private schools have participated.
Once again the UAE is the leading country on PISA assessment in the Arab world. Jordan, Qatar are the only non-OECD member participating Middle East countries. Other Arab League countries that take part include Algeria, Tunisia and Lebanon.
Speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi three years ago Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD's directorate of education and skills, said if the UAE is to improve its performance 'a relentless focus' on teaching will be the key.
"Teachers need to be empowered to lead this transformation but that can only happen when they know what is expected of them and...they get the support they need to teach effectively."