1996-3777 (online)
1990-8539 (print)
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A series of reports on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) periodic testing program on student performance. The reports generally compare student (15 year olds) academic performance across countries, or discuss the methodology used to gather the data.

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Against the Odds

Against the Odds

Disadvantaged Students Who Succeed in School You or your institution have access to this content

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28 June 2011
9789264090873 (PDF) ;9789264089952(print)

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Many socio-economically disadvantaged students excel in PISA. Students who succeed at school despite a disadvantaged background -- resilient students -- are the focus of Against the Odds. The report shows that overcoming barriers to achievement is possible, and provides students, parents, policy makers and other education stakeholders insights into what enables socio-economically disadvantaged students to fulfil their potential. Resilient students are characterised by positive approaches to learning, for example, having more interest in science or having more self-confidence. The evidence in PISA shows that positive approaches to learning tend to boost the performance of advantaged students more than that of disadvantaged ones. From an equity perspective, therefore, policies aimed at fostering positive approaches to learning ought to target disadvantaged students more than others.
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  • Foreword
    Most of the students who perform poorly in PISA share a challenging socio-economic background. Some of their socio-economically disadvantaged peers, however, excel in PISA and beat the odds working against them. This report focuses on resilient students; those who succeed at school despite a disadvantaged background. These individuals show what is possible and provide students, parents, policy makers and other education stakeholders with insights into the drivers of skills and competencies among socio-economically disadvantaged students.
  • Executive Summary
    The proportion of disadvantaged students that are successful varies considerably across educational systems. In some education systems, like in Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Portugal close to half of disadvantaged students exceed an internationally comparable benchmark and can be considered successful from an international perspective.
  • PISA as a Study of Student Resilience
    Educating children and youth is a global imperative: ensuring the academic success of all students is necessary to meet the growing demands of a dynamic global economy and to promote individuals’ wellbeing and quality of life. Academic achievement can also promote social mobility. Students who are equipped with greater skills and knowledge are more likely to enter careers that can help them exit a cycle of deprivation and low aspirations by improving their economic and social conditions (Hout and Beller, 2006). Education can improve not only an individual’s life chances, but also the conditions of future generations: better educated parents generally have children who are healthier, who perform better at school and who have better labour market outcomes.
  • Defining and Characterising Student Resilience in PISA
    Resilient students come from disadvantaged backgrounds yet exhibit high levels of school success. This chapter answers a question central to this report from a PISA perspective: What does it mean to "beat the odds" and how does this differ across countries?
  • A Profile of Student Resilience
    Chapter 2 characterised resilience and contrasted it with low performance among disadvantaged students. It also explored differences in the main individual background characteristics between these two groups of disadvantaged students: resilient and disadvantaged low achievers.
  • Closing the Gap?
    Chapters 2 and 3 analysed and compared different groups of socio-economically disadvantaged students defined by their performance on the PISA science scale. Chapter 2 classified them according to their performance and studied the main individual characteristics of two groups: resilient students (high achievers) and low achievers. Chapter 3 analysed whether differences in approaches to learning, hours spent and courses taken to learn science and in the types of schools disadvantaged students attend are associated with differences in performance and with an increased likelihood that disadvantaged students will be resilient.
  • Conclusions and Policy
    Education can improve the quality of life of individuals and societies. Ensuring that all children achieve their full potential academically is a major policy goal for countries worldwide both for equity and efficiency reasons. Education can in fact play a major role in promoting social mobility and ensuring that children’s future is not determined by the socio-economic background of their parents. At the same time, ensuring that all students perform at high levels is an important component of policies aimed at promoting economic growth and success in a world that demands well-educated citizens and workers.
  • References
  • Annexes
    Annex A1: Defining and characterising student resilience in PISA, Annex A2: A profile of student resilience, Annex A3: Closing the gap? Enhancing the performance of socio-economically disadvantaged students, Annex A4: Conclusions and policy implications, Annex A5: Technical notes
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