OECD has just released the tables for the 2006
Although some people critisize this kind of ranking, I consider this exercise an important tool in the effort to improve an educational system.
The PISA survey, based on tests carried out in 2006 in 57 countries that together account for nearly 90% of world GDP, is the most comprehensive and rigorous international yardstick of secondary-school students' attainments. After focusing in 2000 on reading skills and in 2003 on mathematics, PISA 2006 tested students on how much they knew about science and their ability to use scientific knowledge and understanding to identify and address questions and resolve problems in daily life.
Comparisons between the results of the 2006 tests and those of previous years are not strictly valid.
The table summarises the performance of 15-year-olds in science. It shows three main pieces of information:The average score of the country on the science assessment. Across the 30 OECD countries the scores are statistically standardised to have an average of 500 points. The scores are also standardised so that approximately two-thirds of the students score between 400 and 600 - that is the standard deviation is 100. The colour coding in the list of the countries in the first column gives an indication of whether the country's score is statistically significantly above, below or not different from the OECD average.
- The rank of the country compared to other OECD countries. When a sample of students represents all students in a country, it is not always possible to state with 100% accuracy what the exact rank of the country is compared with other countries. For this reason, OECD calculates, with 95% confidence, a range of ranks that the country falls within. For example, in the list above, OECD is 95% confident that
ranks between 2nd and 5th of all the OECD countries. New Zealand
- The rank of the country compared to all the countries which participated in PISA 2006. The same 95% level of confidence is applied when comparing a country's position to all the other countries. For example, the list above shows, with 95% confidence, that
ranks between 23rd and 30th position of all the countries which participated in PISA 2006. Croatia
- For further background reading, see :
Sample test questions from the PISA 2006 assessment