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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Learning for Tomorrow's World

Learning for Tomorrow's World

First Results from PISA 2003 You or your institution have access to this content

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07 Dec 2004
9789264006416 (PDF) ;9789264007246(print)

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This report presents the first internationally comparable results to OECD's 2003 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Survey of the educational performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science in 25 OECD countries.  This year, the concentration was on mathematics.

Beyond the examination of the relative standing of countries in mathematics, science and reading, the report also looks at a wider range of educational outcomes that include students’ motivation to learn, their beliefs about themselves, and their learning strategies. Furthermore, it examines how performance varies between the genders and between socio-economic groups; and it provides insights into some of the factors that influence the development of knowledge and skills at home and at school, how these factors interact and what the implications are for policy development.  Most importantly, the report sheds light on countries that succeed in achieving high performance standards while, at the same time, providing an equitable distribution of learning opportunities.

The report presents a wealth of indicators showing how countries compare in various measures of educational performance and factors that affect that performance.

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  • Introduction
    In 2003, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted its second three-yearly survey of student knowledge and skills. This report summarises the results. PISA seeks to measure how well young adults, at age 15 and therefore approaching the end of compulsory schooling, are prepared to meet the challenges of today’s knowledge societies. The assessment is forward-looking, focusing on young people’s ability to use their knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges, rather than merely on the extent to which they have mastered a specific school curriculum. This orientation reflects a change in the goals and objectives of curricula themselves, which are increasingly concerned with what students can do with what they learn at school, and not merely whether they can reproduce what they have learned. Key features driving the development of PISA have been: ...
  • A Profile of Student Performance in Mathematics
    Since 1997, OECD governments have collaborated to monitor the outcomes of education in terms of student performance on a regular basis and within an internationally agreed common framework. The first PISA assessment, carried out in 2000, revealed wide differences in the extent to which countries succeed in equipping young adults with knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics and science. For some countries, the results were disappointing, showing that their 15-year-olds’ performance lagged considerably behind that of other countries (and perhaps their own expectations) sometimes by the equivalent of several years of schooling1 and in certain cases despite high investments in education. PISA 2000 also highlighted significant variation in the performance of schools and raised concerns about equity in the distribution of learning opportunities. Among the 25 OECD countries for which performance can be compared between 2000 and 2003, average mathematics performance increased in one of the two content areas measured in both surveys. For the other mathematical content area, as well as for science and reading, average performance among ...
  • Student Learning
    Most children come to school ready and willing to learn. How can schools foster and strengthen this predisposition and ensure that young adults leave school with the motivation and capacity to continue learning throughout life? Without the development of these attitudes and skills, individuals will not be well prepared to acquire the new knowledge and skills necessary for successful adaptation to changing circumstances. In school, teachers manage much of students’ learning. However, learning is enhanced if students can manage it themselves; moreover, once they leave school, people have to manage most of their own learning. To do this, they need to be able to establish goals, to persevere, to monitor their learning progress, to adjust their learning strategies as necessary and to overcome difficulties in learning. Students who leave school with the autonomy to set their own learning goals and with a sense that they can reach those goals are better equipped to learn throughout their lives. A genuine interest in school subjects is important as well. Students with an interest in a subject like mathematics are likely to be more motivated to manage ...
  • How Student Performance Varies between Schools and the Role that Socio-Economic Background Plays in This
    Chapter 2 considered how well students in different countries perform in mathematics at age 15. The analyses reveal considerable variation in the relative standing of countries in terms of their students’ capacity to put mathematical knowledge and skills to functional use. However, the analyses also suggest that differences between countries represent only about one-tenth of the overall variation in student performance in the OECD area. Variation in student performance within countries can have a variety of causes, including the socio-economic backgrounds of students and schools; the ways in which teaching is organised and delivered in classes; the human and financial resources available to schools; and system-level factors such as curricular differences and organisational policies and practices. This chapter starts by examining more closely the performance gaps shown in Chapter 2. It considers, in particular, the extent to which overall variation in ...
  • The Learning Environment and the Organisation of Schooling
    Chapter 4 showed the considerable impact that socio-economic background can have on student performance and, by implication, on the distribution of educational opportunities. At the same time, many of the factors of socioeconomic disadvantage are not directly amenable to education policy, at least not in the short term. For example, the educational attainment of parents can only gradually improve, and average family wealth depends on the longterm economic development of a country as well as on the development of a culture which promotes individual savings. The importance of socio-economic disadvantage, and the realisation that aspects of such disadvantage only change over extended periods of time, give rise to a vital question for policy makers: what can schools and school policies do to raise performance and promote equity? Building on the results from PISA 2000, which suggested that students and schools perform better in a climate characterised by high expectations, the readiness of students to invest effort, the enjoyment of learning, a positive disciplinary climate and good teacher-student relations, this chapter examines policy levers and school-level characteristics that are often thought to be conducive to raising ...
  • A Profile of Student Performance in Reading and Science
    In PISA 2003, the areas of reading and science were given smaller amounts of assessment time than mathematics (the focus of the 2003 assessment), with 60 minutes for each allowing an update on overall performance rather than the kind of in-depth analysis of knowledge and skills shown for mathematics in Chapter 2. This chapter describes how PISA 2003 measures student achievement in reading and science, examines student outcomes in these two areas, and also compares outcomes for PISA 2003 with PISA 2000 ...
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