OECD PISA Study Provides International Comparative Data on Schooling Outcomes

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1 OECD Centres Germany Berlin (-0) Japan Tokyo (1-) 1 Mexico Mexico (-) 10 United States Washington (1-) AUSTRALIA AUSTRIA BELGIUM CANADA CZECH REPUBLIC DENMARK FINLAND FRANCE GERMANY GREECE HUNGARY ICELAND IRELAND ITALY JAPAN KOREA LUXEMBOURG MEXICO NETHERLANDS NEW ZEALAND NORWAY POLAND PORTUGAL SLOVAK REPUBLIC SPAIN SWEDEN SWITZERLAND TURKEY UNITED KINGDOM UNITED STATES Paris, December 01 UNDER EMBARGO NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE TUESDAY DECEMBER 01 A.M. PARIS TIME (10 A.M. GMT) OECD PISA Study Provides International Comparative Data on Schooling Outcomes Finland is the top performing country in a new OECD survey of reading literacy among 1-year-olds, while Japan and Korea are the top performers in mathematics and science. All three countries are also among the countries with the narrowest gap between the highest and lowest performers, based on tests involving,000 high-school students in countries. The OECD s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the extent to which students approaching the end of compulsory education have the knowledge and skills needed for full participation in society. Data published today are based on a first round of assessments that took place last year. Similar reviews at three-yearly intervals in the future will make PISA the most comprehensive international survey of student knowledge and skills. In addition to covering student, PISA also reviews student attitudes and approaches to learning. The result is a series of internationally comparable indicators that give insights into the factors influencing the development of literacy skills at home and at school and how these factors interact. These indicators provide policy makers with a unique benchmarking tool on which to base future policy choices. Among other findings, the survey shows that: On, 10% of 1-year-olds in the world s most developed countries have top-level reading literacy skills, being able to understand complex texts, evaluate information and build hypotheses, and draw on specialised knowledge. In Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the figure is between 1% and % (see Figure below*). At the other end of the scale, an of % of 1-year-olds -- and in some countries more than twice that proportion -- fall below Level 1, PISA s lowest level of reading proficiency. A further % only make it to Level 1, which requires students to complete very basic reading tasks such as locating a simple piece of information or identifying the main theme of a text. Young people in these categories show serious gaps in the foundation of literacy skills needed for further learning, impairing their ability to benefit from further educational opportunities at school or beyond. Japan and Korea are the top performers in mathematical and scientific literacy -- defined as the capacity of students to use the mathematical and scientific knowledge acquired in school in a world that increasingly relies on technological and scientific advances. OECD Media Relations General Inquiries: Tel. () Fax. ()1 0 0/ Research & Documentation: Tel. () 1 0 /0 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, rue André-Pascal, Paris Cedex 1, France Tel. () Fax. () 1 00

2 PAC/COM/PUB(01) High overall can go hand in hand with an equitable distribution of results. Performance s in the three subject areas show some countries notably Finland, Japan and Korea maintaining a comparatively narrow gap between the highest and poorest performers while still attaining high levels. In Germany, one of the countries with the largest gap between the highest and lowest performing students, the is below the, with much of this variation accounted for by differences between schools. Overall, variations in student and the extent of variation between schools tend to be greater in countries that differentiate at an early age between types of programme and school. In many countries, boys are falling far behind in reading literacy. In every country surveyed, girls were, on, better readers than boys. Significant differences between countries reflect the varying abilities of countries to provide a learning environment or broader context that benefits both genders equally. In all participating countries, males are more likely than females to be at Level 1 or below in reading in the case of Finland, the best performing country, over three times as likely. In about half of the countries surveyed, boys perform better than girls in mathematical literacy. Much of this difference is attributable to the fact that there are more boys among the better performers, while the number of low performing boys is equal to that of low performing girls. In the case of scientific literacy, differences are smaller and tend to even out among countries. About half of 1-year-olds consider mathematics important in a general sense, but only a few see mathematics as important for their future. Students show wide differences in their general engagement with school, including big variations in attitudes to reading and even more so to mathematics. In out of countries, more than one in four students consider school a place where they do not want to go. The proportion of reluctant students is highest in Belgium (%), followed by Canada (%), France (%), Hungary (%), Italy (%) and the United States (%). The relationship between student attitudes and results is complex and some countries perform well despite below- attitudes. Nonetheless, a positive disposition to learning is an important outcome of schooling in itself and therefore merits attention. Higher spending per student tends to be associated with higher in the three areas of literacy, but does not guarantee it. Students from privileged social backgrounds tend to perform better, but differences are less pronounced in some countries than in others. Canada, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Korea and Sweden display above- levels of reading literacy and a below- impact of social background on student. In the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Luxembourg, it s the other way round. Results vary widely across schools but there are countries in which the large majority of schools achieve high standards. In countries where differences among schools are widest, a significant part of these differences tends to be associated with the socio-economic composition of schools. There is no single factor that explains why some schools or countries have better results but there are some school policies and practices that tend to be associated with success. For example, the extent to which students use school resources, to which specialist teachers are available, and to which schools have a role in decision-making tend to have a positive impact. Performance also tends to be better where teachers have high expectations and morale, and where classroom relations and discipline are good.

3 PAC/COM/PUB(01) Journalists may obtain a copy of the report from the OECD s Media Relations Division (requests by fax: [] or For further information, journalists are invited to contact Andreas Schleicher in the OECD s Educational Statistics Division (Tel: [] 1 - For further information on PISA see also Knowledge and Skills for Life. First Results from PISA 00 pages, OECD, Paris 01 ; FF.; US$; DM1.0 ISBN --1- ( ) * The figure shows the percentage of students in each country performing at each of the five levels of reading literacy. Level is the highest, Level 1 the lowest. The table shows the of students in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. Since many countries were close in the estimated and because the results are based on samples in each country, it is often not possible to say for sure which of two countries had a higher score. The table therefore also shows the standard error and the range of each country s possible, in terms of ranking out of (these are based on a % level of certainty).

4 PAC/COM/PUB(01) statistically signficantly above the combined reading literacy scale S.E. Upper Lower Finland (.) 1 1 Canada (1.) New Zealand (.) Australia (.) Ireland (.) Korea (.) United Kingdom (.) Japan (.) 10 Sweden 1 (.) Austria 0 (.) 1 Belgium 0 (.) 1 Iceland 0 (1.) 1 Reading Literacy Percentage of students performing at the five levels of reading proficiency Below Level 1 Percentage of students: At Level 1 At Level At Level At Level At Level not statistically different from the OECD Norway 0 (.) 1 France 0 (.) 1 United States 0 (.0) 10 Denmark (.) 1 Switzerland (.) Spain (.) statistically significantly below the OECD Czech Republic (.) Italy (.) Germany (.) Liechtenstein (.1) Hungary 0 (.0) Poland (.) Greece (.0) Portugal 0 (.) Russian Fed. (.) Latvia (.) Luxembourg 1 (1.) 0 0 Mexico (.) 1 1 Brazil (.1) Netherlands Response rate is too low to ensure comparability (see Annex A).. Non-OECD country

5 PAC/COM/PUB(01) Mathematical Literacy Scientific Literacy mathematical literacy scale scientific literacy scale S.E. Upper Lower S.E. Upper Lower statistically signficantly above the not statistically different from statistically significantly below the Japan (.) 1 Korea (.) 1 Korea (.) Japan 0 (.) 1 New Zealand (.1) Finland (.) Finland (.1) United Kingdom (.) Australia (.) Canada (1.) Canada (1.) New Zealand (.) Switzerland (.) 10 Australia (.) United Kingdom (.) 10 Austria (.) 10 Belgium (.) 1 Ireland 1 (.) France (.) 10 1 Sweden (.) 1 Austria 1 (.) 10 1 Czech Republic (.) 10 1 Denmark 1 (.) 10 1 Iceland 1 (.) 1 France 00 (.) 1 Liechtenstein 1 (.0) Norway 00 (.) 1 Sweden 10 (.) 1 United States (.) Hungary (.) 1 Ireland 0 (.) 1 Iceland (.) 1 Norway (.) Belgium (.) 1 Czech Republic (.) Switzerland (.) 1 United States (.) 1 Spain 1 (.0) 1 Germany 0 (.) Germany (.) Hungary (.0) Poland (.1) Russian Fed. (.) Denmark 1 (.) Spain (.1) Italy (.1) Poland 0 (.) Liechtenstein (.1) Latvia (.) Greece 1 (.) Italy (.) Russian Fed. 0 (.) Portugal (.1) Latvia 0 (.) Greece (.) 0 Portugal (.0) Luxembourg (.0) 0 Luxembourg (.) 0 0 Mexico (.) 1 1 Mexico (.) 1 1 Brazil (.) Brazil (.) statistically signficantly above the not statistically different from the OECD statistically significantly below the OECD Netherlands Response rate is too low to ensure comparability (see Annex A).. Non-OECD country

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