PISA 2006

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international standardised education research study of 15-year-olds. PISA 2006 is the third administration of a three-yearly OECD assessment which began in 2000. Fifty-seven countries took part in PISA 2006.

Three key learning subject areas are assessed: , and , with a main focus on one of these areas in each cycle. is the main focus of PISA 2006.

PISA Cycles, Information, Publications and International Data

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

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 2006 PISA Results: PISA 2006: New Zealand Reports 

Key Facts: PISA 2006  
When: July/August 2006.
Who: 4,824 15-year-old students from 170 schools (state, state-integrated and independent) Schools and students were selected using a two-stage stratified sampling design. Internationally nearly 400,000 students took part.
What: OECD International Standardised Study measuring scienctific literacy (main focus), reading literacy and mathematics literacy, and a student, school and parent questionnaire (see below).
How: Conducted under the auspices of the OECD; and managed within New Zealand by the Ministry of Education.
Where: 57 countries (30 OECD countries).

PISA 2006 Key Findings

  • Of the 57 countries participating in PISA 2006, no more than 5 countries achieved a result that was significantly better than New Zealand's 15-year-olds in scientific literacy (2 countries), mathematical literacy (5 countries) and reading literacy (3 countries).
  • New Zealand and Finland achieved the largest proportion of students performing at the highest level of scientific literacy.
  • While boys and girls achieved a similar result in science, girls outperformed boys in reading – a phenomenon that was observed in all PISA countries, and boys outperformed girls in mathematics.
  • New  Zealand had a wide distribution of achievement scores in science, mathematics and reading.
  • The achievement of New Zealand students did not change significantly between PISA 2000 and 2006 in reading or in mathematics between PISA 2003 and 2006. As this is the first time science has been the main focus of PISA trend information is not available.
  • New  Zealand students' reports of their motivation to learn science was strong when compared to the average for OECD countries. In terms of their enjoyment of science and self efficacy (belief in their own ability to handle tasks effectively and overcome difficulties) they were similar to the OECD average, but slightly lower on their self concept (how good they believe they are at science) and interest in science. They were more positive about the value of learning science than the general value of science.
  • There was no change in the way in which New Zealand school principals perceived the quality of educational resources in schools since PISA 2003. Generally they were 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.

Scientific Literacy (major focus)

PISA's Definition of Scientific Literacy

An individual's scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, to acquire new knowledge, to explain scientific phenomena, and to draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues, understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and enquiry, awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual, and cultural environments, and willingness to engage in science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen.

Source: Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy - A Framework for PISA 2006, Paris: OECD 2006.

Key Findings: Scientific Literacy

New Zealand's mean scores in scientific literacy (OECD mean 500)

Three scientific competencies (identifying scientific issues, using scientific evidence and explaining phenomena scientifically) and two knowledge domains (knowledge of science – physical, living and earth and space and technology systems and knowledge about science – scientific enquiry and scientific explanations) were assessed in PISA 2006. The results for technology were not reported separately but are reported on the overall knowledge of science scale.

  • Only two countries - Finland (563) and Hong Kong-China (542) - on average achieved a significantly better performance than New Zealand's 15-year-old students.
  • New Zealand's mean performance (530) was statistically similar to eight other countries, including Canada (534) and Australia (527).
  • New Zealand's 15-year-olds performed significantly better, on average, than 46 of the other 57 PISA countries participating in PISA, including the United Kingdom (515) and United States (489).
  • New Zealand's 15-year-olds performed strongly on the science competencies identifying scientific issues, and using scientific evidence and relatively weaker on explaining phenomena scientifically.
  • New Zealand students performed strongly on the knowledge of science content areas earth and space and living systems and relatively weaker on physical systems. 
  • A stronger performance was shown on the overall knowledge about science scale relative to the overall knowledge of science scale.


Note: Trend information is not available for scientific literacy. As science was the main focus for the first time in PISA 2006 additional aspects of science were assessed. Therefore it is not possible to compare science learning outcomes with the earlier administrations of PISA 2000 and PISA 2003.

Reading Literacy (minor focus)

PISA's Definition of Reading Literacy

An individual's capacity to understand, use and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve one's goals, to develop one's knowledge and potential and to participate in society.

Source: Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy - a Framework for PISA 2006, Paris: OECD 2006.

Key Findings: Reading Literacy

New Zealand's mean scores in reading literacy (OECD mean 492)

PISA assesses three reading processes - retrieving information, interpreting texts and reflecting on and evaluating texts. As reading is a minor focus of PISA 2006 student results on the three reading processes are summarised and reported on the combined reading literacy scale.

  • On average, only three countries - Korea (556), Finland (547) and Hong Kong-China (536) - performed statistically better than New Zealand.
  • New Zealand's average score (521) was statistically similar to two countries - Canada (527) and Ireland (517).
  • New Zealand's 15-year-olds performed significantly better, on average, than 50 of the 55 other PISA countries reported in PISA 2006, including Australia (513) and the United Kingdom (495).

Note: The United States of America reading literacy results are not reported because mean performance in reading could not be accurately be estimated due to a printing error in test booklets. Some of the reading questions had incorrect instructions.

Mathematical Literacy (minor 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 ways that meet the needs of that individual's life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.

Source: Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy - A Framework for PISA 2006, Paris: OECD 2006.

Key Findings: Mathematical Literacy

New Zealand's mean scores in mathematical literacy (OECD mean 498)

PISA assesses four aspects of mathematical literacy - quantity (numeracy), uncertainty (statistics), space and shape (geometry) and change and relationships (algebra). As mathematics is a minor focus of PISA 2006 students results on the four mathematical content areas are summarised and reported on the combined mathematical literacy scale.

  • On average, five countries - Chinese Taipei (549), Finland (548), Hong Kong-China (547), Korea (547) and the Netherlands (531) - performed statistically better than New Zealand's 15-year-olds.
  • New Zealand's average score (522) was statistically similar to seven countries, including Canada (527) and Australia (520).
  • New Zealand's 15-year-olds performed significantly better, on average, than 44 of the 56 other PISA countries reported in PISA 2006, including Australia (520), the United Kingdom (495) and the United States (474).

PISA 2006 Questionnaires

The information contained in these questionnaires can be analysed by the mean scientific, reading and mathematical literacy achievement of  15-year-olds from the 56 participating countries using the link to the OECD database (see below). Because some questions in the questionnaires above relate to New Zealand only (eg, ethnicity) or contribute to a derived variable (eg, parents' occupation contributes to PISA's socio-economic status variable [ESCS]) they are not on the international data set.

PISA 2006 Questionnaires

Related Pages

Where to find out more

Contact Us

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