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PISA in Focus

PISA in Focus is a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way.

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Do Parents' Occupations Have an Impact on Student Performance?

  • Students whose parents work in professional occupations generally outperform other students in mathematics, while students whose parents work in elementary occupations tend to underachieve compared to their peers.
  • The strength of the relationship between parents’ occupations and student performance varies considerably across countries: for example, when it comes to mathematics performance, the children of cleaners in Shanghai-China outperform the children of professionals in the United States, and the children of professionals in Germany outperform the children of professionals in Finland, on average.
  • Finland and Japan achieve high levels of performance by ensuring that the children of parents who work in elementary occupations are given the same education opportunities and the same encouragement as the children of professionals.

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