PISA Equally Prepared for Life?: How 15-year-old Boys and Girls Perform in School

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OECD Publishing, Sep 29, 2009 - Education - 76 pages
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In the past few decades there has been an increasing interest in the different educational experiences, successes and eventual outcomes that prevail for men and women world wide.

Compelling moral, social and economic incentives for individuals and societies have motivated research to better understand gender differences from early childhood through to labour market participation. Research focusing on gender differences can inform policy endorsing gender equity. more specifically, research on educational performance and attitudes can be effective in promoting quality student outcomes and equity.

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) explores the educational performance and attitudes of 15-year-old girls and boys. This report begins with a general summary of gender differences measured outside of the PISA assessment programme. It then considers the knowledge gained about gender-related issues from previous PISA cycles. Some key findings include:

– In reading in PISA 2000, girls significantly outscored boys in all countries.

– In mathematics in PISA 2003, boys outscored girls somewhat.

– In the combined science scale in PISA 2006, there was no overall significant difference observed between boys and girls. However, when examining the various science competencies, knowledge components and attitudes to science, there were some marked differences.


The first results from PISA 2006 were published in PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World

(OECD, 2007)


PISA is a collaborative process among the 30 member countries of the OECD and nearly 30 partner countries and economies. It brings together expertise from the participating countries and economies and is steered by their governments on the basis of shared, policy-driven interests. Its unique features include:

The literacy approach: PISA defines each assessment area (science, reading and mathematics) not mainly in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of the knowledge and skills needed for full participation in society.

A long-term commitment: It enables countries to monitor regularly and predictably their progress in meeting key learning objectives.

The age-group covered: By assessing 15-year-olds, i.e. young people near the end of their compulsory education,

PISA provides a significant indication of the overall performance of school systems.

The relevance to lifelong learning: PISA does not limit itself to assessing students’ knowledge and skills but also asks them to report on their own motivation to learn,

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