The 2018 report by the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) has distressed many Australians given the nation’s dismal results.
PISA, which in 2000 began measuring maths, science, and reading literacy among 15 year old students in its 79 participating countries and regions, provides an internationally agreed upon framework to track student performance.
The test is taken by approximately 600,000 students from such diverse places as Denmark, France, Indonesia, Morocco, and the Philippines.
The test is administered every three years and focuses on a student’s ability to apply their learning to solve problems. Results of the report influence national priorities, policies, and practices on assessment, curriculum, and performance targets.
My interest is based on my experience as a high school science teacher, and as a scholar. As a Canadian, I have participated in two teaching exchanges, in Melbourne in 1999 at a co-ed public school and now 20 years later, here in Sydney at a Catholic girls’ college.
In addition, I also hold a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, where I currently live and teach with Edmonton public schools.
My PhD, and ongoing related research, examines education and socioeconomic development in Arctic indigenous communities.
As such, I have a unique vantage point, especially given that the PISA report’s release coincided with the end of my exchange in Sydney.
My observations are also informed by the many stimulating conversations I have had with other Canadian teachers on exchange, as well as my valued Australian colleagues.
The PISA Report highlights significant differences in math, science, and reading literacy as noted in the two country’s international rankings: