8 May 2012 Last updated at 23:03 GMT By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent China's results in international education tests - which have never been published - are "remarkable", says Andreas Schleicher, responsible for the highly-influential Pisa tests. This is the most extensive insight into how China's school standards compare with other countries These tests, held every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, measure pupils' skills in reading, numeracy and science. Pisa tests - the Programme for International Student Assessment - have become the leading international benchmark. The findings indicate that China has an education system that is overtaking many Western countries. While there has been intense interest in China's economic and political development, this provides the most significant insight into how it is teaching the next generation. 'Incredible resilience' The Pisa 2009 tests showed that Shanghai was top of the international education rankings. But it was unclear whether Shanghai and another chart-topper, Hong Kong, were unrepresentative regional showcases. The OECD's Andreas Schleicher: "Fairness and relevance are not the same thing" Mr Schleicher says the unpublished results reveal that pupils in other parts of China are also performing strongly. "Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance." In particular, he said the test results showed the "resilience" of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds - and the "high levels of equity" between rich and poor pupils. "Shanghai is an exceptional case - and the results there are close to what I expected. But what surprised me more were the results from poor provinces that came out really well. The levels of resilience are just incredible. "In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education in the key to mobility and success." Investing in the future The results for disadvantaged pupils would be the envy of any Western country, he says. Mr Schleicher is confident of the robustness of this outline view of China's education standards. In an attempt to get a representative picture, tests were taken in nine provinces, including poor, middle-income and wealthier regions. High school students shout slogans such as "I must go to college" in a pre-exam event in Nanjing The Chinese government has so far not allowed the OECD to publish the actual data.:thumb: But Mr Schleicher says the results reveal a picture of a society investing individually and collectively in education. On a recent trip to a poor province in China, he says he saw that schools were often the most impressive buildings. He says in the West, it is more likely to be a shopping centre. "You get an image of a society that is investing in its future, rather than in current consumption." There were also major cultural differences when teenagers were asked about why people succeeded at school. "North Americans tell you typically it's all luck. 'I'm born talented in mathematics, or I'm born less talented so I'll study something else.' "In Europe, it's all about social heritage: 'My father was a plumber so I'm going to be a plumber'. "In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: 'It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard.' "They take on responsibility. They can overcome obstacles and say 'I'm the owner of my own success', rather than blaming it on the system." For more click on: BBC News - China: The world's cleverest country?