Wednesday, 4 December 2013

PISA results in. What is literacy like for our 15 y.o's?

The latest PISA results have been released.
PISA is a worldwide assessment of  literacy, numeracy and scientific literacy for 15 y.o.  occurring every second year. 15,000 Australian students were included in the latest study.

You will need some great mathematical literacy to interpret all the data, but it is significant.

 Comparisons can be made 
·         between countries;
·         between Australian states;
·         indigenous versus non-indigenous students;
·         English as  a second language and/or migrant versus English as a first language;
·         socio-economic background;
·         private , public , catholic schools;
·         city versus rural versus remote students;
·         girls versus boys.

This year PISA 2013, has made comparisons with PISA 2003.  There has been significant reduction in functional literacy in all areas - literacy, mathematical and scientific compared with 10 years ago.

When looking at the Australian data, there is significant differences between students achieving the highest scores on the PISA and those at the lower ends.  It can equate to up to 3 years or more in schooling and reading levels. 
36% of students fall below "category 2 which defines reading skills as being able to

"locate one or more pieces of information; recognise the main idea in a text; and understand relationships, or construe meaning within a limited part of the text, when the
information is not prominent and the reader must make low-level inferences"

Read the definitions of reading levels used to categorise students results  at p.15 at

From The Conversation
"The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) director of educational monitoring and research, Sue Thomson - who wrote the Australian chapter of the PISA report - said Australia now has fewer top-performing students, and more at the bottom.
She said the reading results showed Australian students were illiterate in a practical sense.
"It's not saying they're totally illiterate or innumerate,'' she said.
"But they don't necessarily have the skills they need to participate fully in adult life.''

Data from Maths and Science literacy are also available.

Read further interpretations and commentary 

Where to from here?

Services, organisations and government departments need to be even more aware of the needs of their audience. Students, young adults and adults in the workforce can continue to learn to read.  However, when a student is significantly below functional literacy standards, and yet still needs to be able to make life choices, interrupt health literacy information, financial literacy and other problem solving tasks this is significantly harder.  Implementing a strategy of Easy English will ensure you engage with your audiences more meaningfully.

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