One of the ultimate goals of policy makers is to enable citizens to take advantage of a globalised world economy. This is leading them to focus on the improvement of education policies, ensuring the quality of service provision, a more equitable distribution of learning opportunities and stronger incentives for greater efficiency in schooling.
The design of PISA does not just allow for a comparison of the relative standing of countries in terms of their learning outcomes; it also enables each country to monitor changes in those outcomes over time. Such changes indicate how successful education systems have been in developing the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds.
Introduction to PISA
Are students well prepared to meet the challenges of the future? Can they analyse, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Have they found the kinds of interests they can pursue throughout their lives as productive members of the economy and society? The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) seeks to answer these questions through its triennial surveys of key competencies of 15-year-old students in OECD member countries and partner countries/economies. Together, the group of countries participating in PISA represents nearly 90% of the world economy.
Comparing performance over time
This chapter describes how PISA has measured trends in reading performance between the first PISA assessment in 2000 and the latest in 2009. Since reading was the focus of both assessments, it is possible to obtain detailed comparisons of how student performance in reading changed between 2000 and 2009. The chapter also discusses the methods used for tracking trends in student performance in mathematics and science.
Trends in reading
This chapter highlights trends in reading performance between 2000 and 2009. It includes changes in performance among the lowest- and highest-achieving students, boys and girls, students with an immigrant background, socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged students, and among countries.
Trends in mathematics and science
Changes in mathematics and science performance are smaller than those in reading, since performance in these two subjects is measured over a shorter period of time. This chapter describes trends in mathematics performance between 2003 and 2009, and trends in science performance between 2006 and 2009.
Trends in equity
This chapter examines trends in equity in learning opportunities and outcomes. It focuses on how variations in reading performance have changed between 2000 and 2009, and the extent to which the impact of socio-economic background and immigrant status on performance has also changed during the same period.
Trends in attitudes and student-school relations
Have students’ attitudes towards reading changed over the years? This chapter describes trends observed between 2000 and 2009 in whether and what students read for enjoyment, and how the gender gap in reading preferences and performance has evolved during that period. The chapter also discusses trends in teacher-student relations and disciplinary climate in the classroom.
Conclusions and policy implications
The design of PISA does not just allow for a comparison of the relative standing of countries in terms of their learning outcomes; it also enables each country to monitor changes in those outcomes over time. Such changes indicate how successful education systems have been in developing the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds. Indeed, some countries have seen impressive improvements in performance over the past decade, in some cases exceeding the equivalent of an average school year’s progress for the entire student population. Some of these countries have been catching up from comparatively low performance levels while others have been advancing further from already high performance levels. All countries seeking to improve their results can draw encouragement — and learn lessons — from those that have succeeded in doing so in a relatively short period of time.
The development of the PISA 2009 reading tasks was co-ordinated by an international consortium of educational research institutions contracted by the OECD, under the guidance of a group of reading experts from participating countries. Participating countries contributed stimulus material and questions, which were reviewed, tried out and refined iteratively over the three years leading up to the administration of the assessment in 2009. The development process involved provisions for several rounds of commentary from participating countries, as well as small-scale piloting and a formal field trial in which samples of 15-year-olds from all participating countries took part. The reading expert group recommended the final selection of tasks, which included material submitted by 21 of the participating countries. The selection was made with regard to both their technical quality, assessed on the basis of their performance in the field trial, and their cultural appropriateness and interest level for 15-year-olds, as judged by the participating countries. Another essential criterion for selecting the set of material as a whole was its fit to the framework described in Volume 1, What Students Know and Can Do, to maintain the balance across various categories of text, aspect and situation. Finally, it was carefully ensured that the set of questions covered a range of difficulty, allowing good measurement and description of the reading literacy of all 15-year-old students, from the least proficient to the highly able.
Tables of results
The development and implementation of pisa
PISA is a collaborative effort, bringing together scientific expertise from the participating countries, steered jointly by their governments on the basis of shared, policy-driven interests.
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