Table of Contents

  • The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), created in 1997 , represents a commitment by the governments of OECD member countries to monitor the outcomes of education systems in terms of student achievement, within a common internationally agreed framework. PISA is a collaborative effort, bringing together scientific expertise from the participating countries and steered jointly by their governments on the basis of shared, policy-driven interests. Participating countries take responsibility for the project at the policy level. Experts from participating countries also serve on working groups that are charged with linking the PISA policy objectives with the best available substantive and technical expertise in the field of internationally comparative assessment.

  • Parents, students, teachers, governments and the general public – all stakeholders – need to know how well their education systems prepare students for real-life situations. Many countries monitor students’ learning to evaluate this. Comparative international assessments can extend and enrich the national picture by providing a larger context within which to interpret national performance. They can show what is possible in education, in terms of the quality of educational outcomes as well as in terms of equity in the distribution of learning opportunities. They can support policy targets by establishing measurable goals achieved by other systems and help to build trajectories for reform. They can also help countries to work out their relative strengths and weaknesses and monitor progress.

  • The PISA 2012 mathematics framework explains the theoretical underpinnings of the PISA mathematics assessment, including a new formal definition of mathematical literacy, the mathematical processes which students undertake when using mathematical literacy, and the fundamental mathematical capabilities which underlie those processes. The framework describes how mathematical content knowledge is organised into four content categories and outlines the content knowledge that is relevant to an assessment of 15-year-old students. It describes four categories of contexts in which students will face mathematical challenges. The framework specifies the proportions of items from each of the four content and context categories, each response format and each process, and describes the rotating booklet designs and questionnaires. Items of a range of difficulty are required. The optional computer-based assessment for mathematics is described, with discussion of the rationale and potential for future development. The categorisations are illustrated with seven units used in PISA surveys and field trials. Multiple quality control measures are described. The PISA assessment will measure how effectively countries are preparing students to use mathematics in every aspect of their personal, civic and professional lives, as part of their constructive, engaged and reflective citizenship.

  • This chapter discusses the conceptual framework underlying the PISA 2012 assessment of students’ reading competencies. It provides the PISA definition of reading literacy and presents the elements of the survey which have remained consistent throughout the previous cycles, along with a new element introduced in PISA 2009: reading and understanding digital texts. It describes how PISA assesses and analyses print and digital reading tasks, as well as the way in which students navigate through digital texts and respond to the format of tasks. Sample print and digital reading items are included throughout the chapter to further illustrate how students’ skills are measured.

  • This chapter presents the theory underlying the PISA 2012 science assessment. It begins with a definition of scientific literacy, outlines the organisation of science in PISA and sets the context for the test questions. The chapter describes the knowledge and skills at the heart of the assessment: identifying scientific issues, explaining phenomena scientifically and using scientific evidence. It then describes how knowledge and attitudes are also encompassed in the PISA definition of scientific literacy. Test questions are given as examples throughout this chapter to illustrate the classification, format and structure of the PISA science assessment.

  • This chapter presents the framework underlying the PISA 2012 computerbased assessment of individual problem-solving competency, including the rationale for the assessment, the framework’s research underpinnings and a definition of what is meant by problem-solving competency. The definition is discussed in detail, as are the three key domain elements of most importance for the assessment: the problem context, the nature of the problem situation, and the cognitive processes involved in solving a problem. The general structure of the assessment and its computer delivery are described, including the test interface and the response formats employed. The distributions of items by problem nature and context, and according to cognitive process, are specified. The inclusion of problems that require the solver to interact with the problem situation to uncover necessary information not explicitly disclosed is highlighted. Sample items are presented with commentary, including an illustration of how response data (captured by the computer-delivery system) is used to enhance scoring.

  • PISA 2012 is the first large-scale international study to assess the financial literacy of young people. This framework is the first step in constructing a financial literacy assessment of international scope by providing an articulated plan for developing items, designing the instrument and providing a common language for discussion of financial literacy. This framework provides a working definition for financial literacy and organises the domain around the content, processes and contexts that are relevant for the assessment of 15-year-old students. Content areas described by the framework include money and transactions, planning and managing finances, risk and reward and financial landscape. The framework covers identify financial information, analyse information in a financial context, evaluate financial issues, apply financial knowledge and understanding, and the education and work, home and family, individual and societal contexts. These areas are illustrated with 10 items. Additionally, the framework discusses the relationship of financial literacy to non-cognitive skills and to both mathematics and reading literacy, and the measurement of students’ financial behaviour and experience.

  • The PISA 2012 context questionnaire framework describes how PISA can be developed further as a sustainable database for educational policy, and research. The framework maps out a design for the PISA context questionnaires that will be sustainable into the future. It also makes recommendation regarding aspects of design and analysis that are intended to build on the existing strengths of PISA and mapping an even stronger path into the future. Finally, the framework provides the theoretical and scientifically rigorous underpinnings of the concepts, scales and indices developed for the PISA 2012 cycle and that will be constructed using the different context questionnaires implemented in participating countries and economies. In particular, the framework discusses in detail new individual outcome measures – strategies, beliefs and motivation – related to mathematical literacy and innovative indicators of opportunity to learn and quality of instruction at the level of individual students, schools and systems.