A Cross-national Perspective on Some Characteristics Shared by the Best-performing Countries in PISA

Type Book
Title A Cross-national Perspective on Some Characteristics Shared by the Best-performing Countries in PISA
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
URL http://www.fed.cuhk.edu.hk/hkier/content/document/OP/Op58.pdf
The PISA 2000 assessments of performance by 15-year-olds revealed wide differences among countries, and between schools and students within countries. However, the results achieved by students in countries/regions such as Finland, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan indicate that it is possible to combine high performance standards with an equitable distribution of learning outcomes. Quality and equity do not have to be seen as competing policy objectives. Nevertheless, even the countries that performed well overall in the 2000 PISA assessments have areas for concern. In almost all countries, there is a significant minority of students who performed at reading literacy level 1 or below. Such students may not only struggle in school, but also find it difficult to make their way successfully in the world beyond school. A crosssectional study such as PISA cannot establish the causal nature of relationships, but it can show countries their areas of relative strength and weakness, and stimulate debate about current policies and practices. Important pointers for policy that emerge from the results include building students’ engagement with reading and school more generally, focusing on learning outcomes rather than educational inputs, providing schools with the authority for organizing their own programs and holding them accountable for the results, and reducing the extent of social and educational differentiation among schools. The PISA results also pose important questions for deeper investigation. For example, the strength of the findings on student engagement challenges school systems and researchers to delve more deeply into the motivational factors that make learning more effective, and how those factors can be developed. The strong association between student performance and structural differentiation in schooling challenges systems that stream students from a relatively early age to better understand the social and educational processes at work. Future developments in PISA will help to deepen our understanding of the ways in which system policies and school practices affect the performance of students from different social backgrounds.

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