PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment) is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating countries and administered to15-year-olds in schools.
The survey was implemented in 43 countries in the first assessment in 2000, in 41 countries in the second assessment in 2003 and at least 58 countries will participate in the third assessment in 2006.
Tests are typically administered to between 4,500 and 10,000 students in each country.
PISA 2003 focuses on mathematics literacy, and in 2006, PISA will focus on science literacy.
Initial results from PISA 2003 are released in December 2004.
- Mathematical Literacy
- Problem Solving
- Reading Literacy
- Scientific Literacy
PISA assesses how far students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society. In all cycles, the domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy are covered not merely in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of important knowledge and skills needed in adult life.
In the PISA 2003 cycle, an additional domain of problem solving was introduced to continue the examination of cross-curriculum competencies.
Mathematical Literacy - an individual's capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual's life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.
Problem Solving - an individual's capacity to use cognitive processes to confront and resolve real, cross-disciplinary situations where the solution path is not immediately obvious and where the literacy domains or curricular areas that might be applicable are not within a single domain of mathematics, science or reading.
Reading Literacy - understanding, using, and reflecting on written texts, in order to achieve one's goals, to develop one's knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.
Scientific Literacy - Scientific literacy is the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it through human activity.
Sources: www.psu.edu, www.oecd.org
The results of the 2003 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) reinforce the importance of ensuring that students learn with real understanding so they can use their knowledge in life situations. The results also highlight the urgent need to address the achievement gap among groups of students.
Plastic made mock-ups of human brains are on display during a protest prior the official presentation of the first results from PISA 2003 (Program for International Student Assessment) report by the OECD in Berlin, December 6, 2004.
The sign reads 'Best university graduate brain.' The report goes well beyond an examination of the relative standing of countries around the world in mathematics, science and reading.
It also looks at a wider range of educational outcomes that include students' motivation to learn, their beliefs about themselves and their learning strategies.
PISA results show that 15-year-olds in the United States performed lower on average than their counterparts in the participating countries in both math literacy and problem solving.
The PISA results highlight the achievement gap among U.S. students, with white, Asian and students of more than one race outperforming Hispanic and black students. The United States demonstrated the strongest relationship of any country between socioeconomic status and student performance. Less affluent U.S. students were outperformed by their wealthier peers, especially in problem solving.
The recent PISA assessment concentrated on the math literacy and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds to measure their knowledge in the context of everyday situations. The information gathered from PISA 2003 supports the Council's philosophy that students who learn mathematics with understanding are better able to solve problems that they have not encountered previously but will face in real-life situations outside the classroom. The PISA results call for a stronger connection between problem solving and real-life situations.