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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What can we do to ensure a level playing field for all students?

Many education systems aim to provide learning opportunities to all students regardless of their backgrounds in order for them to realise their potential. Education systems are expected to break down barriers to social mobility. However, too often, children are not given enough opportunities to succeed, to pursue their interests, or to develop their skills. Individual circumstances over which students have no control often affect the quality of the schooling they receive and the educational path they choose. They also influence students’ development of attitudes and dispositions toward learning, and can shape students’ dreams for their future. Differences in opportunities for students often result in achievement gaps among students with different backgrounds. Over the last 20 years, PISA has shown that students’ socio-economic status, which includes parents’ occupations and educational levels and home possessions, are predictors of performance scores in reading, mathematics and science in all countries and economies participating in PISA. So far, this has been without a single exception. This policy brief points to key aspects to consider in providing students with needed opportunities to level the playing field for all students and achieve greater equity in education beyond the exigencies of the pandemic.


JEL: I24: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Inequality
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