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.
PISA’s conception of reading literacy encompasses the range of situations in which people read, the different ways written texts are presented, and the variety of ways that readers approach and use texts, from the functional and finite, such as finding a particular piece of practical information, to the deep and far-reaching, such as understanding other ways of doing, thinking and being. Research shows that these kinds of reading literacy skills are more reliable predictors of economic and social well-being than the number of years spent in school or in post-formal education.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reviews the extent to which students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies, particularly reading, mathematics and science. This section offers an overview of the Programme, including which countries participate and which students are assessed, what types of skills are measured and how and to what extent PISA 2009 differs from previous PISA assessments.
A Profile of Student Performance in Reading
What can 15-year-olds do as readers? This chapter compares student performance in reading across and within countries. It discusses the PISA definition of the term reading literacy and the reading tasks associated with each PISA proficiency level. The chapter then digs deep into the reading results, showing gender differences in reading skills, and detailing the levels of student proficiency in various aspects of reading, such as students’ ability to access and retrieve, integrate and interpret, and reflect and evaluate the information they obtain through reading. It also discusses students’ ability to read and understand continuous and non-continuous texts.
A Profile of Student Performance in Mathematics and Science
What can 15-year-old students do in mathematics and science? This chapter examines student performance in these two subjects as measured by PISA 2009. It provides examples of assessment questions, relating them to each PISA proficiency level, discusses gender differences in student performance, and compares countries’ mean performance. As the global demand for highly skilled workers grows, the chapter also highlights today’s top performers in reading, mathematics and science.
The results of PISA 2009 show wide differences between countries in the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in reading literacy. The equivalent of an average of six years of schooling, 242 score points, separates the highest and lowest average performances of the countries that took part in the PISA 2009 reading assessment. Differences between countries, however, represent only a fraction of overall variation in student performance. The difference in reading performances within countries is generally even greater, with often over 300 point separating the highest and lowest performers in a country. Addressing the educational needs of such diverse populations and narrowing the observed gaps in student performance remains a formidable challenge for all countries.
This section explains the indices derived from the student, school and parent context questionnaires used in PISA 2009. However in Volume I, only few student indices have been used.
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. A PISA Governing Board on which each country is represented determines, in the context of OECD objectives, the policy priorities for PISA and oversees adherence to these priorities during the implementation of the programme. This includes the setting of priorities for the development of indicators, for the establishment of the assessment instruments and for the reporting of the results. Experts from participating countries also serve on working groups that are charged with linking policy objectives with the best internationally available technical expertise. By participating in these expert groups, countries ensure that the instruments are internationally valid and take into account the cultural and educational contexts in OECD Member countries, the assessment materials have strong measurement properties, and the instruments place an emphasis on authenticity and educational validity. Through National Project Managers, participating countries implement PISA at the national level subject to the agreed administration procedures. National Project Managers play a vital role in ensuring that the implementation of the survey is of high quality, and verify and evaluate the survey results, analyses, reports and publications. The design and implementation of the surveys, within the framework established by the PISA Governing Board, is the responsibility of external contractors. For PISA 2009, the questionnaire development was carried out by a consortium led by Cito International in partnership with the University of Twente. The development and implementation of the cognitive assessment and of the international options was carried out by a consortium led by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Other partners in this consortium include cApStAn Linguistic Quality Control in Belgium, the Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung (DIPF) in Germany, the National Institute for Educational Policy Research in Japan (NIER), the Unité d’analyse des systèmes et des pratiques d’enseignement (aSPe) in Belgium and WESTAT in the United States. The OECD Secretariat has overall managerial responsibility for the programme, monitors its implementation on a day-to-day basis, acts as the secretariat for the PISA Governing Board, builds consensus among countries and serves as the interlocutor between the PISA Governing Board and the international consortium charged with the implementation of the activities. The OECD Secretariat also produces the indicators and analyses and prepares the international reports and publications in co-operation with the PISA consortium and in close consultation with Member countries both at the policy level (PISA Governing Board) and at the level of implementation (National Project Managers).
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