OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an
international standardised assessment of the skills and knowledge
of 15 year olds. This programme, in which 32 countries in the 2000
assessment took part, aims to assess performance in three domains:
reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.
The Autonomous Region of The Basque Country will officially take
part in the PISA 2003 assessment with its own sample.
The PISA project pretends to go beyond the definition of each domain
in relation to school curriculum command, but also to look at students'
ability and skills relevant for life. The assessment of cross-curricular
competences is an integral part of the PISA programme.
The command of procedures, understanding of concepts, and the ability
to respond to different situations inside each domain is considered
The PISA programme understands education as the whole of skills
and abilities that assist 15 year old students along their transition
into adult life and their integration and participation in society.
These skills and abilities must be acquired not only in schools
but also through the interaction with the other members of the community.
In short, it aims to assess literacy, understood as the whole of
skills necessary to participate actively in society; the learning
of these skills is a never ending activity that is developed along
Governing Board meeting 2004
|PISA will assess
mathematical literacy in three dimensions:
• First, the content of mathematics,
as defined mainly in terms of broad mathematical concepts underlying
mathematical thinking (such as chance, change and growth, space
and shape, reasoning, uncertainty and dependency relationships),
and only secondarily in relation to "curricular strands"
(such as numbers, algebra and geometry). The PISA 2000 assessment,
in which mathematics is a minor domain, will focus on two concepts:
change and growth, and space and shape. These two domains will
allow a wide representation of aspects of the curriculum without
giving undue weight to number skills.
• Second, the process of mathematics
as defined by general mathematical competencies. These include
the use of mathematical language, modelling and problem-solving
skills. The idea is not, however, to separate out such skills
in different test items, since it is assumed that a range of competencies
will be needed to perform any given mathematical task. Rather,
questions are organised in terms of three "competency classes"
defining the type of thinking skill needed:
• The first class of mathematical competency consists of
simple computations or definitions of the type most familiar in
conventional mathematics assessments,
• The second class requires connections to be made to solve
• The third competency class consists of mathematical thinking,
generalisation and insight, and requires students to engage in
analysis, to identify the mathematical elements in a situation
and to pose their own problems.
• Third, the situations in which mathematics
is used, ranging from private contexts to those relating to wider
scientific and public issues.
|PISA will assess
reading literacy in three dimensions
• First, the form
of reading material, or text. Many student reading assessments
have focused on prose organised in sentences and paragraphs, or
"continuous texts". OECD/PISA will in addition introduce
"non-continuous texts" which present information in
other ways, such as in lists, forms, graphs, or diagrams. It will
also distinguish between a range of prose forms, such as narration,
exposition and argumentation. These distinctions are based on
the principle that individuals will encounter a range of written
forms in adult life, and that it is not sufficient to be able
to read a limited number of text types typically encountered in
• Second, the type of reading task. This corresponds at
one level to the various cognitive skills that are needed to be
an effective reader, and at another, to the characteristics of
questions set in the assessment. Students will not be assessed
on the most basic reading skills, as it is assumed that most 15
year-olds will have acquired these. Rather, they will be expected
to demonstrate their proficiency in retrieving information, forming
a broad general understanding of the text, interpreting it, reflecting
on the content and form of texts in relation to their own knowledge
of the world, and arguing their own point of view.
• Third, the use for which the text was constructed - its
context or situation. For example a novel, personal letter or
biography is written for people’s "private" use;
official documents or announcements for "public" use;
a manual or report for "occupational" use; and a textbook
or worksheet for "educational" use. An important reason
for making these distinctions is that some groups may perform
better in one reading situation than in another, in which case
it is desirable to include a range of types of reading in the
|PISA will assess
scientific literacy in three dimensions:
• First, scientific
concepts, which are needed to understand certain phenomena of
the natural world and the changes made to it through human activity.
In OECD/PISA, whilst the concepts are the familiar ones relating
to physics, chemistry, biological sciences and earth and space
sciences, they will need to be applied to real-life scientific
problems rather than just recalled. The main content of the assessment
will be selected from within three broad areas of application:
science in life and health; science in earth and environment and
science in technology.
• Second, scientific processes, centred on the ability to
acquire, interpret and act upon evidence. Five such processes
present in OECD/PISA relate to:
• the recognition of scientific questions,
• the identification of evidence,
• the drawing of conclusions,
• the communication of these conclusions and
• the demonstration of understanding of scientific concepts.
• All but the last of these do not require a pre-set body
of science knowledge. Yet since no scientific process can be "content-free",
the PISA science questions will always require understanding of
key scientific concepts.
• Third, scientific situations, selected mainly from people’s
everyday lives rather than from the practice of science in a school
classroom or laboratory, or the work of professional scientists.
As with mathematics, science figures in people’s lives in
contexts ranging from personal or private situations to wider
public, sometimes global issues.