PISA 2003

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international standardised education research study of 15-year-olds. PISA 2003 is the second administration of a three-yearly OECD assessment which began in 2000. Forty-one countries took part in PISA 2003.

Three key learning subject areas are assessed: mathematics, science and reading, with a main focus on one of these areas in each cycle. is the main focus of PISA 2003.

PISA Cycles, Information, Publications and International Data

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For each individual three year cycle of PISA and publications based on PISA results please refer to 'Related Pages' inset box. For links to international publications, data and information on the OECD website refer to the 'Where to find out More' inset box.

PISA Key Facts

Read the 2003 PISA Results: PISA 2003: New Zealand Reports 

Key Facts: PISA 2003  
When: July/August 2003.
Who: 4,511 15-year-old students from 173 schools (state, state-integrated and independent) Schools and students were selected using a two-stage stratified sampling design. Internationally, around 300,000 students took part.
What: OECD International Standardised Study measuring mathematical literacy (main focus), scienctific literacy and reading literacy, and a student, and school questionnaire.
How: Conducted under the auspices of the OECD; and managed within New Zealand by the Ministry of Education.
Where: 41 countries (30 OECD countries).

PISA 2003 Key findings

  • The New Zealand student mean score in each of reading, mathematics and science as measured by PISA placed New Zealand within the group of second highest performing countries for each subject area, along with countries such as Australia, Canada and Japan.
  • New Zealand had a wide distribution of achievement scores in each of reading, mathematics and science.
  • The achievement of New Zealand students did not change significantly between the 2000 and 2003 PISA assessments in reading, mathematics or science. Internationally, average mathematics performance increased in one of two content areas over this period, while performances in reading and science have essentially remained unchanged.
  • New Zealand students also performed well in the cross-curricular competency of problem solving. New Zealand's mean score was in line with those of countries, such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong-China and Japan, that recorded the second highest level of achievement in problem solving.
  • In terms of some of the cognitive, affective and attitudinal outcomes of learning measured in PISA, students in New Zealand are generally well placed to meet the challenges they may face once they leave school. For example, their reported self-confidence in mathematics was high relative to the average across OECD countries, and they were among the more frequent users of both memorisation and elaboration learning strategies.
  • Principals in New Zealand schools tended to be more positive than principals across the OECD in their views on the effect of possible resource shortages in their schools, reporting that such shortages generally had no or minimal impact on schools' ability to provide instruction.

Mathematical Literacy (main focus)

PISA's Definition of Mathematical Literacy

An individual's capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in a way that meets the needs of that individual's life as a constructive and reflective citizen. OECD (2003).

Source: The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework: Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills,Paris: OECD 2003.

Related Pages

Where to find out more

Contact Us

For queries about the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) please email the: PISA Mailbox