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Against the Odds

Disadvantaged Students Who Succeed in School

image of Against the Odds
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.

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PISA as a Study of Student Resilience

Educating children and youth is a global imperative: ensuring the academic success of all students is necessary to meet the growing demands of a dynamic global economy and to promote individuals’ wellbeing and quality of life. Academic achievement can also promote social mobility. Students who are equipped with greater skills and knowledge are more likely to enter careers that can help them exit a cycle of deprivation and low aspirations by improving their economic and social conditions (Hout and Beller, 2006). Education can improve not only an individual’s life chances, but also the conditions of future generations: better educated parents generally have children who are healthier, who perform better at school and who have better labour market outcomes.

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