Against the Odds

Disadvantaged Students Who Succeed in School

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Many socio-economically disadvantaged students excel in PISA. Students who succeed at school despite a disadvantaged background -- resilient students -- are the focus of Against the Odds. The report shows that overcoming barriers to achievement is possible, and provides students, parents, policy makers and other education stakeholders insights into what enables socio-economically disadvantaged students to fulfil their potential. Resilient students are characterised by positive approaches to learning, for example, having more interest in science or having more self-confidence. The evidence in PISA shows that positive approaches to learning tend to boost the performance of advantaged students more than that of disadvantaged ones. From an equity perspective, therefore, policies aimed at fostering positive approaches to learning ought to target disadvantaged students more than others.



Conclusions and Policy

Education can improve the quality of life of individuals and societies. Ensuring that all children achieve their full potential academically is a major policy goal for countries worldwide both for equity and efficiency reasons. Education can in fact play a major role in promoting social mobility and ensuring that children’s future is not determined by the socio-economic background of their parents. At the same time, ensuring that all students perform at high levels is an important component of policies aimed at promoting economic growth and success in a world that demands well-educated citizens and workers.


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