Introduction, Quality of learning outcomes, Equity and distribution,
Learner characteristics, Learning climate, School resources, School policies and practices, Test subjects, OECD average and OECD total
The PISA 2003 and PISA 2006 survey cycles collected information on the performance of 15-year-olds in mathematics, science, reading and problem solving through paper-and-pencil tests. A background questionnaire was also completed by students asking them about their approaches to learning and their family. Information on the way schools are managed was collected through a questionnaire completed by school principals.
The PISA country profiles tool allows the user to obtain specific information from the PISA 2003 and PISA 2006 databases for a particular country or set of countries. The system can provide the data in Excel and also generate graphs in either html or pdf formats.
If the user generates several graphs the site keeps a record of these and lists them on the home page so that the user can go back to them easily.
Example: A user wants to find out how the performance in mathematics of students in his/her native country Austria compares to the four countries Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States. He/she also wants to look at the distribution of performance in each country and compare it with that of the OECD average and OECD total. He/she wants to sort the information according to the highest level of achievement of students (level 6)The user selects:
The user then clicks on either 'spreadsheet', 'graph (html)' or 'graph (pdf)'. In this case a bar chart graph is created with the country with the least amount of students achieving level 6 on the left hand side through to the country with the highest number of students achieving level 6 on the right hand side.
Quality of learning outcomes gives an indication of the level of countries’ student performance in the subjects mathematics, reading, science and problem solving
It is possible to look at this in several ways:
Equity and distribution measures how fair the chances of student success are by measuring their performance against their socio-economic background. Socio-economic background is established through a questionnaire where students are asked about their parents’ level of education and occupation, what they have access to at home (e.g. books, computers), whether they have an immigrant background and what language they speak at home.
Learner characteristics gives an indication of students approaches to learning. They are asked whether they enjoy school and specifically whether they enjoy mathematics.
Learning climate examines students’ and school principals’ perceptions of the atmosphere at school. Students are asked to indicate how much support they feel they get from their teachers. School principals are asked to evaluate teacher and student morale in the school.
School resources are approached in terms of physical and human resources and cover topics such as teacher shortages, the physical infrastructure and how schools are funded. This information is provided through a questionnaire completed by school principals.
School policies and practices provides information on policies for admitting and testing students and how schools are managed. This information is provided through a questionnaire completed by school principals.
Mathematical problems that are based on real-world contexts. Students are required to identify features of a problem that might involve thinking in terms of mathematics. In turn they use their knowledge of mathematics to solve the particular problem.
In PISA 2003 and PISA 2006 four different aspects of mathematics were tested.
Written information provided in a real-life context. Students are shown different kinds of written text, ranging from prose to lists, graphs and diagrams. They are set a series of tasks, requiring them to retrieve specific information, to interpret the text and to reflect on and evaluate what they read. These texts are set in a variety of reading situations, including reading for private use, occupational purposes, education and public use.
Scientific knowledge and skills applied to real-life situations, as opposed to science linked to particular curricular components. Students are required to show a range of scientific skills, involving the recognition and explanation of scientific phenomena, the understanding of scientific investigation and the interpretation of scientific evidence. Tasks are set in a variety of contexts relevant to people’s lives, related to life and health, technology and the Earth and environment.
The process of solving problems set in unfamiliar situations by thinking flexibly and pragmatically. This involves understanding a situation, identifying relevant information or constraints, representing possible alternatives or solution paths, selecting a solution strategy, solving the problem, checking or reflecting on the solution and communicating the result.
The OECD average is the unweighted mean of the data values of the OECD countries. Regardless of sample size each country is treated as if it carried equal weight.
The OECD total is the weighted mean of the data values of the OECD countries i.e. it is calculated giving more weight to a country that has more students than another country, e.g. if we take 2 countries X and Y.
|Number of students enrolled in school|| Mean score
|Country X||10 000||438|
|Country Y||15 000||500|
The weighted mean for these two countries is calculated by multiplying the mean score for each group by the number of students enrolled in school, adding these totals together and dividing by the total number of students enrolled in school i.e. (438x10 000 + 500x15 000)/25 000 = 475.2
The unweighted mean for these two countries is calculated as the sum of the mean score for each country divided by the number of countries i.e. (438 +500)/2 = 469