Learning Mathematics for Life

A Perspective from PISA

image of Learning Mathematics for Life

People from many countries have expressed interest in the tests students take for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Learning Mathematics for Life examines the link between the PISA test requirements and student performance. It focuses specifically on the proportions of students who answer questions correctly across a range of difficulty. The questions are classified by content, competencies, context and format, and the connections between these and student performance are then analysed.

This analysis has been carried out in an effort to link PISA results to curricular programmes and structures in participating countries and economies. Results from the student assessment reflect differences in country performance in terms of the test questions. These findings are important for curriculum planners, policy makers and in particular teachers – especially mathematics teachers of intermediate and lower secondary school classes.




The present study affords an opportunity to view 15-year-old students’ capabilities internationally through the lens of mathematical literacy as defined by the PISA 2003 mathematics framework and the resulting assessment. The framework (Chapter 2), the focus on the actual items (Chapter 3), students’ performance by mathematical subtopic areas and competency clusters (Chapter 4), the influence of item format and reading level on item difficulty (Chapter 5), and the assessment and interpretation of student problem solving (Chapter 6) present an interesting view of mathematical literacy and instruction in an international context.


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