In 2000, Canada launched the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS) in conjunction with the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Since then, the 30 000 Canadian students that participated in PISA 2000 have been interviewed every two years to collect information about their experiences in education and the labour market. The enhanced assessment of individual competencies, the quality of antecedent data and the ability to better adjust for background factors, improve analytical power. The availability of outcome variables later on in time maximises the capacity to explain the increase or decrease in results relative to explanatory factors. YITS will be completed in 2010 and in 2009 participants were re-assessed using the same tools as in PISA 2000. Pathways to Success showcases some of the advantages of a PISA longitudinal component by highlighting some key findings emerging from the PISA 2000/YITS data up to the 2006 round.
Introduction: The Case for Linking PISA with Longitudinal Studies
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) offers a comprehensive, high-quality and reliable indicator of how education systems fare in close to 70 countries. It allows countries to benchmark their performance against international standards and also contextualise their performance in order to inform policy in a number of areas. Using Canada as an example, this chapter shows that the results of cross-sectional studies such as PISA can be significantly enhanced through the strategic implementation of a longitudinal component. These enhancements can lead to significant policy insights in understanding the choices made at different ages and the impact these choices have on consequent education and labour market outcomes. With these insights at hand, decision makers can make more informed investments in public policy.
PISA 2000 and the Canadian Context
This chapter provides the context in which to interpret the analyses presented in the chapters that follow. It describes the objectives and designs of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS) and discusses a rationale for linking cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys. It uses Canada as an example to identify the benefits of synergies between cross-sectional and longitudinal studies in education. The chapter concludes with an overview of the systems of education in Canada in order to facilitate and enhance the interpretation of the evidence discussed in subsequent chapters.
Starting Right: Canadian Results from PISA 2000
A key concern from an international perspective is the extent to which education systems provide quality, equitable opportunities to students. Canada is no exception. In revisiting the PISA 2000 results for Canada, and this chapter presents an evaluation of the quality and equality of educational outcomes across the Canadian systems of education. In doing so, some key challenges are identified. The chapter is intended to provide readers with the baseline performance and antecedents for interpreting the results of the longitudinal analyses that are presented in subsequent chapters.
Decisions After School: Pathways Followed by the Cohort Born in 1984
This chapter provides a first glimpse at the results of Canada’s longitudinal study – the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS). Using 2006 as a reference point, when students were 21 years olds, it examines the various pathways taken by students to college, university and work since 2000. These pathways are critical in shaping the future educational, occupational and social outcomes of these individuals and hence are of considerable policy relevance. While linear pathways were most common to achieve a post-secondary education, they were not the only ones. The importance of achievement in PISA 2000 evidenced by the results presented in this chapter. High levels of competencies at age 15 are in general associated with linear pathways and higher educational attainment – notably, a university education – but many students also followed non-linear pathways (those shifting between education and work) to achieve a post-secondary education.
Predicting Success: Key Characteristics of Youth Affecting Transitions to Education and the Labour Market
The importance of securing post-secondary education has been demonstrated earlier in this report and elsewhere. This chapter considers the association of earlier educational achievement, as measured in PISA 2000, with subsequent pathways to educational attainment, as well as the likely effects of higher PISA achievement on further educational attainment. The chapter also presents pathways by the age of 21, when transitions between education, work and inactivity are likely to be common. The relative influence of PISA achievement, simultaneously analysed with a number of background characteristics, confirms the importance of prior competencies. This also provides some important policy implications that are particularly relevant to equity.
Acquiring Human Capital: The Relationship of PISA Reading Proficiencies and the Pathway to Higher Education
To date, the majority of research examining youth in post-secondary education has focused on access. The results presented in this chapter extend the understanding of the post-secondary education process in several ways. First, access to university and college are examined with respect to a number of key background characteristics, including performance in PISA 2000. Persistence in post-secondary education is also analysed, as well as factors associated with course choice. The use of the same background characteristics across the three outcomes of access, persistence and choice in field of study paints a complex and nuanced picture of the trajectories of the youth who participated in PISA and YITS. The evidence described here highlights that access, persistence and field of study in postsecondary education (university, in particular) are closely related to higher PISA achievement and particular background characteristics.
Competent Pathways to Work: PISA Scores and Labour Market Returns
An important societal and individual outcome of a country’s education system is the level of success experienced by youth as they enter the labour market. In 2006, the point at which the latest data from YITS are available for this report, Canadian youth were 21 years old and many were only beginning the journey into the world of work. Hence, this chapter represents an initial analysis of the labour market outcomes of Canadian youth. It examines the associations between achievement in PISA 2000 and a number of background characteristics with respect to two key labour market outcomes: earnings and the likelihood of unemployment. By age 21, there is some evidence about the relationship between skills, as measured by PISA and labour market outcomes, but it is most likely still too early to tell whether any potential impact could strengthen the youths’ careers. These results represent an important first look at these outcomes that can be built on as the results of YITS 2008 and 2010 become available.
This report examined a range of evidence from the Canadian experience with PISA and YITS and evaluated the value of combining international assessments of competences in real-life activities with longitudinal follow up data as tools for developing evidence for policy making. It demonstrates the significant long term investment in the linkage of data on individuals over several points in time in relation to their early competencies, as well as their choices, aspirations and behaviours, can have a major pay-off in understanding educational and labour market outcomes in young adulthood. Replicating this experience at an international level could only increase the advantages and benefits of such an effort.
Annex A – COUNTRIES OTHER THAN CANADA IMPLEMENTING A LONGITUDINAL RESEARCH COMPONENT WITH PISA
Six countries other than Canada are implementing longitudinal research in conjunction with PISA in their countries. These are listed below, together with a short summary of the design of the study, with references to websites for further information.
Annex B – TECHNICAL INFORMATION AND DATA TABLES FOR CHAPTER 5
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