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Education at a Glance 2011: Highlights
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branch 5. Special section: introducing pisa
  branch What is PISA?
  • PISA assessments are held every three years, with each round assessing student performance in reading, mathematics and science.
  • Around 70 countries have taken part in PISA since it began in 2000, accounting for more than 90% of the world economy.
  • Around 470 000 students participated in PISA 2009, representing about 26 million 15-year-olds.

Introduction

PISA, the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment, evaluates the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems throughout the world. The programme represents a commitment made by governments to regularly monitor the outcomes of education systems within an internationally agreed framework.

PISA assesses 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 society. Every three years, hundreds of thousands of 15-year-old students are assessed on their reading, mathematics and science performance. Factors influencing their performance and potential for lifelong learning, including their social background, are also explored in separate questionnaires. The organisation of schools is also taken into account through a questionnaire filled out by school principals. The resulting data provides a basis for international co-operation in defining and implementing educational goals in innovative ways.

Key features of PISA

Policy orientation: PISA is designed to provide governments with the data they need to draw policy lessons.

"Literacy" concept: PISA is concerned with the capacity of students to apply knowledge and skills in key subject areas and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they pose, solve and interpret problems in a variety of situations.

Relevance to lifelong learning: PISA goes beyond assessing students' curricular competencies to report on their motivation to learn, their beliefs about themselves and their learning strategies.

Regularity: PISA's triennial cycle allows countries to monitor their progress in meeting key learning objectives.

Breadth: PISA assessments cover all 34 OECD countries and a large number of other partner countries and economies.

Definitions

Results reported in this section are based on student assessments administered as part of the PISA 2009 round undertaken by the OECD. The term "students" refers to 15-year-olds enrolled in an educational institution at secondary level, regardless of the grade level, type of institution or whether they attended school full-time or part-time.

Once students have completed the assessments, their results are processed to produce a score point average and ranking for their country. Note, however, that because the students who take part in PISA represent only a sample of 15-year-olds in each country, each ranking can be determined only with a 95% likelihood.

The score-point scale is divided into six proficiency levels. Attaining a certain level indicates that a student has certain proficiencies. For example, students attaining Level 6 in reading were described as being able to conduct fine-grained analysis of texts, which requires detailed comprehension of both explicit information and unstated implications; and reflect on and evaluate what they read at a more general level. By contrast, students at Level 1 were described as having such a limited reading literacy that they can only find explicitly-stated information and make low-level inferences.

The discussion in this special section on PISA in Education at a Glance 2011: Highlights covers the 34 OECD member countries and the following five G20 partner countries or economies only: Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Shanghai-China. Full data coverage for all the countries that took part in the latest PISA round can be found in PISA at a Glance 2009.

Information on data for Israel: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932315602.

Going further

For additional material, notes and a full explanation of sourcing and methodologies, see PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do: Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I).

 

Table 5.1.  Country and economy coverage for PISA 2009

This table lists the countries and economies that took part in PISA 2009 assessments.

OECD countries

 

Partner countries and economies

 

Australia

 

Albania

 

Austria

 

Argentina

 

Belgium

 

Azerbaijan

 

Canada

 

Brazil

 

Chile

 

Bulgaria

 

Czech Republic

 

Colombia

 

Denmark

 

Costa Rica 1

 

Estonia

 

Croatia

 

Finland

 

Georgia 1

 

France

 

Himachal Pradesh-India 1

 

Germany

 

Hong Kong-China

 

Greece

 

Indonesia

 

Hungary

 

Jordan

 

Iceland

 

Kazakhstan

 

Ireland

 

Kyrgyzstan

 

Israel

 

Latvia

 

Italy

 

Liechtenstein

 

Japan

 

Lithuania

 

Korea

 

Macao, China

 

Luxembourg

 

Malaysia 1

 

Mexico

 

Malta 1

 

Netherlands

 

Mauritius 1

 

New Zealand

 

Miranda-Venezuela 1

 

Norway

 

Moldova

 

Poland

 

Montenegro

 

Portugal

 

Netherlands-Antilles 1

 

Slovak Republic

 

Panama

 

Slovenia

 

Peru

 

Spain

 

Qatar

 

Sweden

 

Romania

 

Switzerland

 

Russian Federation

 

Turkey

 

Serbia

 

United Kingdom

 

Shanghai-China

 

United States

 

Singapore

 

 

Tamil Nadu-India 1

 

 

Chinese Taipei

 

 

Thailand

 

 

Trinidad and Tobago

 

 

Tunisia

 

 

Uruguay

 

 

United Arab Emirates 1

 

 

Viet Nam 1

 

Note : These partner countries and economies carried out the assessment in 2010 instead of 2009.

 
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