Are students well prepared to meet the challenges of the future? Are they able to analyse, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? These are questions that parents, students, the public and those who run education systems continually ask. The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides some answers to this question. It assesses the extent to which students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society. It presents evidence on student performance in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy, the extent to which students are able to identify and pursue their own learning goals by applying strategies and drawing on their motivation, as well as factors that influence the development of knowledge and skills at home and at school.
With the report Literacy Skills for the World of Tomorrow: Further Results from PISA 2000, OECD and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics extend the picture that PISA provides to additional countries that have recently joined the programme: Albania; Argentina; Bulgaria; Chile; Hong Kong-China; Indonesia; Israel; FYR Macedonia; Peru; Romania and Thailand. In addition to a wider geographic coverage, the report also provides new insights into the individual characteristics and family backgrounds that students bring to the learning process and how these interact with the resources and practices that characterise the schools they attend.
The report shows considerable variation in levels of knowledge and skills between students, schools and countries. Not all of these differences are due to the social and economic conditions in which students live and schools or countries operate. Some countries have managed to mitigate the influence of social background and some have achieved this while reaching a high overall level of performance. These are noteworthy achievements. Will other countries take up the challenge?
This report updates Knowledge and Skills for Life (2001) which is not currently available in print, however, its e-book edition as well as the complete PISA database can be downloaded free of charge from www.pisa.oecd.org.