National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009

Student achievement

5.3 Programme for International Student Assessment

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) compares the performance of 15-year-old students internationally using the same assessment tasks. PISA helps governments to measure the effectiveness of their education systems and also to learn from practices in other countries.
PISA assessments are triennial. Three domains are tested: reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy. In each cycle of PISA, there is a larger emphasis placed on one domain. In PISA 2009, reading literacy was the major domain of assessment.
The Australian Government and all State and Territory governments contribute funding for Australia’s participation in PISA, and provide representation, along with other members from the Australian education community, to the International Assessments National Advisory Committee.1 More information is available on the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) website.
While ACARA does not oversee the delivery of PISA, it is one of the sample assessments in the National Assessment Program. The results are used to evaluate the progress towards the Educational Goals for Young Australians and the national outcome that Australian students excel by international standards, as outlined in the National Education Agreement which came into effect on 1 January 2009. It is also significant that PISA tests students who are approaching the end of the compulsory years of schooling.
PISA reports comparable performance data, with student achievement disaggregated by sex, Indigenous status, geographic location and indicators of socio-economic background.
Information about the background of PISA, the framework that is used to design the assessments, the management of PISA and further technical information is available from ACER.
A National Report, which provides information about the performance of Australian students, is published for each PISA assessment. Key findings from the 2009 report are available on the ACER website.

Key Performance Measures

The proportion of students in the bottom and top levels of performance in international testing is a performance indicator for schooling in the National Education Agreement. The proportions achieving at or above the proficient standard on the PISA scales are Key Performance Measures (KPMs) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia.
The proportions achieving at or above the proficient standard (Level 3) on the OECD PISA combined reading, mathematical and scientific literacy scales are reported in Table 5.5.
Key Performance Measures 1 (e), 2 (c) and 3 (b)
 Table 5.5      Achievement on OECD PISA scales: Proportion of students achieving at each proficiency level, proportion of students achieving at or above the proficient standard (Level 3), Australia, 2009 (per cent); proportion of students achieving at or above the proficient standard, OECD average, 2009 (per cent)
 
Proficiency level
Australian students (%)
At or above the proficient standard:
Australia
(%)
At or above the proficient standard: OECD average (%)
 
Below 1
1
2
3
4
5
6
Reading literacy
1
13
20
28
24
11
2
65
58
Mathematical literacy
5
11
20
26
22
12
4
64
56
Scientific literacy
3
9
20
28
25
11
3
67
58
Source: Sue Thomson, Challenges for Australian education: results from PISA 2009: the PISA 2009 assessment of students’ reading, mathematical and scientific literacy, Australian Council for Educational Research, 2011
 
1 The International Assessments National Advisory Committee comprises representatives from the Australian Government (DEEWR), education departments in the States and Territories, ACARA, the Catholic and independent school sectors, subject matter experts and the Indigenous community, as well as from government and independent schools unions. The Committee is chaired by an AEEYSOC representative. The Australian Council for Educational Research project manages PISA nationally.