Back to media releases
Friday, 16 Dec 2011

• Costa Rica, Georgia, India (Himachal Pradesh & Tamil Nadu), Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Venezuela (Miranda), Moldova, United Arab Emirates

• Girls significantly outperform boys in reading

**MEDIA RELEASE**

ACER releases results of PISA 2009+ participant economies

**Costa Rica, Georgia, India (Himachal Pradesh & Tamil Nadu), Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Venezuela (Miranda), Moldova, United Arab Emirates **
**Girls significantly outperform boys in reading**

**16 December 2011:** The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) this morning released the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009+ results for ten economies.

PISA is an international comparative survey of 15-year-olds’ knowledge and skills in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy, conducted by ACER. It measures how well young adults have acquired the knowledge and skills that are required to function as successful members of society.

Sixty-four economies originally participated in PISA 2009. Ten additional partner participants, who were unable to participate within the PISA 2009 project timeframe, participated in the PISA 2009 study on a reduced and delayed timeline in 2010. This is known as the PISA 2009+ project.

The PISA 2009+ economies are: Costa Rica, Georgia, India (Himachal Pradesh & Tamil Nadu), Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Venezuela (Miranda), Moldova, United Arab Emirates. PISA 2009+ involved testing just over 46 000 students across these ten economies, representing a total of about 1 377 000 15-year-olds.

ACER CEO, Professor Geoff Masters, said the results found that in the PISA 2009+ economies, girls significantly outperformed boys in reading (reflecting the PISA 2009 results).

“Girls not only tended to attain higher reading scores than boys, they were also more aware of strategies for understanding, remembering and summarising information,” Professor Masters said.

“Students who are highly aware of effective strategies for learning who also regularly read a wide range of material, tend to demonstrate better reading proficiency than those who either have a lower awareness of effective strategies or read a narrower range of materials regularly.”

Professor Masters said that while school level factors account for a considerable proportion of variation in reading performance between schools, much of this is associated with socioeconomic and demographic factors.

“This suggests that policies around governance, accountability, the investment of educational resources and the overall learning environment are influenced by the social and demographic intake of the school,” Professor Masters said.

“Schools containing students with higher socioeconomic backgrounds, tend to be more autonomous in their decision about curriculum, make more of assessments for accountability purposes, have better student-teacher relationships, and utilise more educational resources. Students attending these schools have better educational outcomes.”

The results also showed both girls and boys from the PISA 2009+ nations had results in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy that were lower than the OECD average.

The results reveal the following highlights for each PISA 2009+ participants:

**Costa Rica**

- Students in Costa Rica attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale the same as that observed for one OECD country, Chile, and was significantly higher than that for one other country, Mexico. The average reading score for Costa Rica was statistically the same as those for Bulgaria, Malta and Serbia.
- Just over two-thirds of students in Costa Rica are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average.
- While in Costa Rica girls outperformed boys in reading, the difference was among the lowest in magnitude of all PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+ participants.
- Costa Rican students attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale below the average attained in all OECD countries. 43% of students in Costa Rica are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Costa Rican students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale which was significantly higher than that estimated for the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico. 61% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.

**Georgia**

- Georgia’s students attained an average score on the reading literacy level below the average attained in all OECD countries. Georgia’s average score was below the average attained in all OECD countries. Georgia’s average score is the same as those of Qatar, Peru and Panama. 38% of students in Georgia are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. The majority of students therefore perform below the baseline level of proficiency in reading.
- Georgia’s students attained an average score in the mathematical literacy scale below the average of all OECD nations. In Georgia, 31% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Georgia, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
- Georgian students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale below the average of all OECD countries. In Georgia, 34% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Georgia, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

**Himachal Pradesh-India **

- The average reading literacy score for Himachal Pradesh-India was the lowest average reading score observed in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+, along with that of Kyrgyzstan.
- In Himachal Pradesh-India, 11% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. It follows that 89% of students in Himachal Pradesh-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
- In Himachal Pradesh-India, students attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale statistically the same as observed in Tamil Nadu-India and Kyrgyzstan. 12% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Himachal Pradesh-India’s students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale which is below the means of all OECD countries. This was the lowest average science score observed in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+, along with that of Kyrgyzstan.
- Himachal Pradesh-India’s students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale which is below the average of all OECD countries. 11% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.

**Malaysia**

- Students in Malaysia attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that was below the average attained in all OECD countries and equivalent to the average scores estimated for Brazil, Colombia, Miranda-Venezuela, Montenegro, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago. In Malaysia, 56% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Students in Malaysia attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale below the average attained in all OECD countries. In Malaysia, 41% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. In Malaysia, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
- Malaysian students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale that was significantly higher than that estimated for the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico.
- In Malaysia, 57% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.
- In Malaysia, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

**Malta**

- Malta’s students were estimated to have an average score significantly higher than for the lowest performing OECD country, Mexico. The Maltese average was statistically the same as those for Serbia, Costa Rica and Bulgaria.
- In Malta, girls significantly outperformed boys and have the largest gender gap in reading across all 74 PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+ participants.
- 64% of students in Malta are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average. Malta is notable among PISA 2009+ participants in that it has a relatively large proportion of advanced readers but also a relatively large proportion of poor and very poor readers in the population.
- The Maltese students’ estimated mathematical literacy average was the same as that estimated for students from Greece, and higher than those from the OECD countries Israel, Turkey, Chile and Mexico. In Malta, 66% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average.
- In Malta, there was a statistically significant gender difference in mathematical literacy, favouring girls.
- Maltese students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale that was statistically the same those observed in the OECD countries Turkey and Israel and significantly higher than those estimated for two other OECD countries, Chile and Mexico.
- In Malta, two-thirds of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology.
- In Malta, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls. This was the largest gender gap in scientific literacy among all PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+ participants, along with those observed in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

**Mauritius**

- Students in Mauritius attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale below the average attained in all OECD countries and equivalent to the average scores estimated for Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Jordan Montenegro and Tunisia.
- In Mauritius, 53% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Students in Mauritius attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale that was the same as those observed in the two lowest performing OECD countries, Chile and Mexico.
- In Mauritius, 50% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average.
- There was no statistically significant difference in Mauritius in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
- Students in Mauritius were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale which is statistically the same as that observed in the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico.
- In Mauritius, 53% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.
- There was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

**Miranda-Venezuela **

- Students within state funded public schools and private schools within the state of Miranda, Venezuela, achieved an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale as that observed in one OECD country, Mexico. It is also equivalent to those observed in Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Malaysia, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
- In Miranda-Venezuela, girls significantly outperformed boys in reading, but the difference was among the lowest in magnitude of all PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+ participants.
- 58% of students in Miranda-Venezuela are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Students in Miranda-Venezuela attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale that is below the average attained in all OECD countries. In Miranda-Venezuela, 40% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development.
- Students in Miranda-Venezuela were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale that is statistically the same as that observed in the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico.
- In Miranda, 57% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.
- In Miranda-Venezuela, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in scientific literacy.

**Moldova**

- Students in Moldova attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale below the average attained in all OECD countries and equivalent to the mean scores estimated for Albania, Argentina and Kazakhstan.
- In Moldova, 43% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. The majority of students do not perform at the baseline level of proficiency in reading.
- Students in Moldova attained an average score on the mathematical literacy scale that is below the average attained in all OECD countries. In Moldova, 39% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. There was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
- Students in Moldova were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale that is statistically the same as that observed in the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico. In Moldova, 53% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. There was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

**Tamil Nadu-India **

- Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
- In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
- Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
- In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
- Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

**The United Arab Emirates **

- Dubai participated as a separate economy in PISA 2009. The remaining emirates of the United Arab Emirates participated in PISA 2009+. Dubai’s data were merged with that of the remaining emirates and they are reported as a single entity: the United Arab Emirates.
- Students in the United Arab Emirates attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale, the same as that observed in one OECD country, Mexico. It is also equivalent to those observed in Bulgaria, Miranda-Venezuela, Romania and Uruguay.
- 60% of students in the United Arab Emirates are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This compares to 81% in the OECD countries, on average.
- Students in the United Arab Emirates attained an average score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale that is statistically the same as those observed in the two lowest performing OECD countries, Chile and Mexico. In the United Arab Emirates, 49% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. In the United Arab Emirates, there was a statistically significant gender difference in mathematical literacy, favouring girls.
- Students in the United Arab Emirates were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale that was significantly higher than that estimated for the lowest scoring OECD country, Mexico.
- In the United Arab Emirates, 61% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average.
- In the United Arab Emirates, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls. This gender gap was the largest observed in scientific literacy among all PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+ participants, along with those observed in Jordan and Malta.

Download the PISA 2009+ report

****************ENDS*************

Media enquiries: Petros Kosmopoulos

Phone: +61 3 9277 5582

Mobile : +61 417 754 570

Email: communications@acer.edu.au