OECD PISA report
On 6 December 2016, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the 2016 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is designed to evaluate important competencies of young citizens in the areas of mathematics, reading, and science. Over half a million 15-year-old students from 72 countries participated in the test, which focused this year on science—an increasingly central part of today’s society and economy. In addition to gathering data on specific knowledge, skills, and abilities, PISA also collects information on students’ socio-economic backgrounds.Student proficiency in science
Asian countries once again topped the PISA ranking. Singapore was the top-performing country across all subjects, and 13% of the world’s top-performing students come from just two provinces in China. The four highest-performing OECD countries in science are Canada, Japan, Estonia, and Finland. In most countries, students’ performance in science remained unchanged since the 2006 PISA test. Approximately 20% of students across OECD countries perform below the baseline level of proficiency in science.
Although gender differences in science performance tend to be small, more boys had top performances in science than girls. Finland is the only country in which girls are more likely to be top performers than boys. In almost all other countries, boys tend to see themselves becoming information and communications technology (ICT) professionals, scientists, or engineers, whereas girls tend to envision themselves working as health professionals.
Socio-economically disadvantaged students across OECD countries are three times more likely to be low performers than advantaged students. However, inequality in education is not inevitable. In Vietnam, the 10% most disadvantaged students do as well as the average student in the OECD countries.
Students who are at the end of their compulsory education should have acquired skills and knowledge that are essential for full participation in their society. Although PISA can serve as a good tool for tracking learning outcomes, countries should look at a variety of information when making policy decisions about how to best improve their school systems.
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Founded in 1960 and based in Paris, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international organization with 35 member nations (developed countries) that focus on promoting policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Read more about the organization here.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2016). PISA 2015: Results in focus. Download the report here.