PISA 2006

Science Competencies for Tomorrow's World: Volume 1: Analysis

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PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World presents the results from the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey, which focused on science and also assessed mathematics and reading. It is divided into two volumes: the first offers an analysis of the results, the second contains the underlying data. Volume 1: Analysis gives the most comprehensive international picture of science learning today, exploring not only how well students perform, but also their interests in science and their awareness of the opportunities that scientific competencies bring as well as the environment that schools offer for science learning. It places the performance of students, schools and countries in the context of their social background and identifies important educational policies and practices that are associated with educational success. By showing that some countries succeed in providing both high quality education and equitable learning outcomes, PISA sets ambitious goals for others.

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School and system characteristics and student performance in science

Chapter 4 showed the considerable impact that socio-economic background can have on student performance and, by implication, on the distribution of educational opportunities. At the same time, many factors of socio-economic disadvantage are not directly amenable to education policy, at least not in the short term. For example, the educational attainment of parents can only gradually improve and average family wealth depends on the long-term economic and social development of a country. The importance of socio-economic disadvantage, and the realisation that aspects of such disadvantage only change over extended periods of time, give rise to vital questions for policy makers: what can schools and school policies do to raise overall student performance? And similarly, what can they do to moderate the impact that socio-economic background has on student performance, thus promoting a more equitable distribution of learning opportunities?


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