Wednesday, 28 Nov 2001

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) will brief the media on the results of a major international survey of student achievement in reading, mathematics and science on Tuesday 4 December 2001 in Melbourne at 10.30 am (an embargo of the results will apply until 9.00 pm AESST).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey will compare the performance of Australian 15-year-olds with the performance of 15-year-olds in 31 countries, including USA, Canada, UK, major European nations, Japan, Korea and Russia. These countries comprise approximately 40 percent of the world’s population.

265 000 students from 32 countries took part in the first PISA survey in 2000 in key areas thought to be essential for full participation in adult life. Twenty-eight of the countries, including Australia, are members of the OECD. Four other countries participated at their own request.

In Australia, 6200 students from 231 government, Catholic and independent schools in all States and Territories took part.

The school and student samples were randomly selected in every country. During 2000 the sampled students answered pen-and-paper tests in reading, mathematics and science.

Students were not tested on their curriculum knowledge as such, but on whether they could apply their knowledge and skills to real-life problems and situations. The OECD uses the terms ‘reading literacy’, ‘mathematical literacy’ and ‘scientific literacy’ to denote the areas assessed, because of PISA’s emphasis on skills going beyond school curricula.

Students also answered a questionnaire about their backgrounds, interests and attitudes. Principals answered a questionnaire about their schools.

Among the comparative results that will be released are:

Means, standard deviations and percentile distributions by country for reading, mathematical and scientific literacy;
‘Multiple comparison’ charts to show which countries performed significantly better than which other countries;
Percentages of students by country placed in each of five levels of proficiency in reading literacy, and examples and descriptions of tasks that students at each level can typically do;
Examples of easy and difficult tasks in mathematical and scientific literacy;
Results in relation to many student variables, for example, gender, social background, language background, attitudes towards reading and learning methods used; and to school variables such as enrolment size; quality of resources; school climate for learning; and school autonomy; and
Australian state and territory performance.

PISA, an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, will be repeated every three years, so that changes over time can be measured and monitored.

PISA was implemented for the OECD by an international consortium led by ACER. The Australian component of PISA was also implemented by ACER and jointly funded by the Commonwealth Government, State Governments and Territory Governments.

WHAT: Media briefing of PISA 2000 results by Professor Geoff Masters
WHERE: Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell 3124
WHEN: Tuesday 4 December 2001
TIME: 10.30 am

Embargoed copies of the summary report will be available on Monday 3 December 2001.

Strictly no material can be released, whether in the form of print or broadcast, wire or the internet, before 9.00 pm (AESST) on Tuesday 4 December 2001 when the international embargo ends.

Pre-recorded interviews can be arranged with ACER Executive Director, Professor Geoff Masters or PISA National Project Manager, Dr Jan Lokan