What is PISA?
Issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), PISA tests the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in mathematics, reading, and science. Seventy-two countries and economies took part in the 2015 assessment, which focused on science, and the data were released by the OECD on 6th December 2016. Additional results on well-being, financial literacy and collaborative problem solving were released in 2017. In 2018, students will write another PISA assessment which will have Reading as a major focus.
For more information on PISA from the OCED website please feel free to click here.
What subject areas are assessed with PISA?
PISA measures student performance in mathematics, reading, and science literacy. Conducted every 3 years, each PISA data cycle assesses one of the three core subject areas in depth (considered the major or focal subject), although all three core subjects are assessed in each cycle (the other two subjects are considered minor domains for that assessment year). Assessing all three subjects every 3 years allows countries to have a consistent source of achievement data in each of the three subjects while rotating one area as the primary focus over the years. In addition to the core assessments, education systems may participate in optional assessments such as financial literacy and problem solving. For 2018, the primary focus will be on Reading.
What does PISA Assess and Why?
PISA focuses on the assessment of student performance in reading, mathematics and science because they are foundational to a student's ongoing education. While the 2018 PISA assessment will have its major focus on reading, the other areas of mathematics and science will also be measured. In addition to these three areas, PISA also collects valuable information on student attitudes and motivations, and formally assesses skills such as collaborative problem solving.
In 2018 PISA will assess global competence for the first time. Global competence is the capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development.
PISA does not measure your child's attainment of curriculum outcomes. It measures students' ability to apply knowledge and skills and to analyze, reason, and communicate effectively as they examine, interpret, and solve problems.
Why is PISA Assessed every 3 Years and Why Does it Assess 15 Year Olds?
A key objective of PISA is to inform and support education policy decision making within countries. A three-year cycle provides countries with timely information that includes data and analyses to consider the impact of policy decisions and related programs. If it were more frequent it would not allow sufficient time for changes and innovations to show improvement or decline, and if it were less frequent it would mean declines in performance could not be promptly addressed.
The average age of 15 was chosen because at this age young people in most OECD countries are nearing the end of compulsory education. The selection of schools and students is as inclusive as possible, so that the sample of students comes from a broad range of backgrounds and abilities.
How is PISA information interpreted?
So how does Newfoundland and Labrador compare to the rest of Canada? The tables below show longitudinal results for all three areas.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, scores in Reading have stabilized but are below the Canadian average.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, scores in Mathematics are declining and are below the Canadian average.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, scores in Science are declining and are below the Canadian average.
For a more detailed report of Canadian Results click here.
Why should my child actively participate in PISA if selected?
Let's look at an example:
Let's say that in the 2018 PISA assessment it was identified that students in Newfoundland and Labrador scored lower than other parts of Canada in the area of Mathematics. NLESD and EECD may interpret that as a need to focus teachers and students on more problem solving in class. Program staff may be reassigned to work on this perceived deficiency, other staff hired, or even curriculum revisions may be initiated. If your son or daughter were one of the students who wrote the last version of the PISA assessment and did not put in their best effort into writing that assessment, then the data upon which NLESD and EECD are basing their planning and decisions may not be accurate.
To avoid inaccuracies in data (like PISA) that we use to plan and make decisions, we ask all students to simply try their best. The assessment itself does not "count" towards their overall evaluation in any course or grade level but it is important to NLESD and EECD that your child, if selected to complete the PISA assessment, they put forward their best effort.
Sample PISA Questions
Information obtained from: