Education GPS is the OECD source for internationally comparable data and analysis on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.

A selection of indicators from PISA 2015

From taking a painkiller to determining what is a “balanced” meal, from drinking pasteurised milk to deciding whether or not to buy a hybrid car, science is omnipresent in our daily lives. The most recent of the triennial surveys of 15-year-old students known as PISA (the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment) focused on students’ performance in, and attitudes towards, science. Some of the findings from PISA 2015:

  • Some 8% of students across OECD countries (and 25% of students in Singapore) are top performers in science, meaning that they are proficient at Level 5 or 6. Students at these levels are sufficiently skilled in and knowledgeable about science to creatively and autonomously apply their knowledge and skills to a wide variety of situations, including unfamiliar ones.
  • About 20% of students across OECD countries do not attain the baseline level of proficiency in science, Level 2. At Level 2, students can draw on their knowledge of basic science content and procedures to identify an appropriate explanation, interpret data, and identify the question being addressed in a simple experiment. All students should be expected to attain Level 2 by the time they leave compulsory education.
  • On average across OECD countries, 25% of boys and 24% of girls reported that they expect to work in a science-related occupation. But boys and girls tend to think of working in different fields of science: girls envisage themselves as health professionals more than boys do; and in almost all countries, boys see themselves as becoming ICT professionals, scientists or engineers more than girls do.
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    A selection of indicators from Education at a Glance 2016

    How successful are the OECD nations at expanding education opportunities to their residents? How is investing in education beneficial for individuals and societies - financially, socially, and culturally? How equitably are learning and job opportunities being distributed within countries? And over all, how are countries placed to meet the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals in education by 2030? Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators offers a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators measuring the current state of education internationally. As this edition shows, considerable progress has been achieved in the last years but accessible education remains a challenge for all countries:

  • Pre-primary education and access to tertiary education continue to grow. 85% of 4 year-olds were enrolled in 2014 and a third of 20-24 year-olds are enrolled in tertiary education.
  • Spending per student in real terms was 8% higher in 2013 than in 2008. Spending by students and households has also risen, notably in tertiary education where 30% of expenditure comes from private sources.
  • But many young people have yet to see the benefit of increased spending: across OECD countries, about one in six 25-34 year-olds remains without an upper secondary education. The unemployment rate of young people without an upper secondary education is more than twice (17.4%) on average the rate of those with a tertiary education (6.9%).
  • Gender gaps, though narrower, are still a reality: young women are still under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and are less likely to be employed, especially if they do not have a tertiary degree, and earn on average less than men at all levels of attainment.

  • Adult Skills

    A selection of indicators from Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills .

    Adults who are highly proficient in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments, as measured by the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), are likely to be able to make the most of the opportunities created by the technological and structural changes modern societies are going through. Those who struggle to use new technologies are at greater risk of losing out. Adults with a higher proficiency tend to have not only better outcomes in the labour market than their less-proficient peers (in terms of employment and wages), but they also report better results in many aspects of individual well-being. Individuals with a higher proficiency in literacy report to be healthier, believe to have more impact on the political process, trust more in others, and participate more in volunteer or associative activities.

    Skills measured in the survey are far from being equally distributed. In almost all countries/economies, around one in five adults has poor reading skills, one in four adults has no or only limited experience with computers or lacks confidence in their ability to use computers and nearly one in two adults have a low proficiency in problem solving in technology-rich environments. Various factors are associated with lower skills. One is age, older adults (55-65 year-olds) score lower in literacy than 25-34 year-olds. Moreover, gender gaps in proficiency – which are negligible in literacy and are slightly in favour of men in numeracy – are also more pronounced among older cohorts. Parents’ educational background, a proxy for socio-economic status, also exerts a significant influence on adults’ proficiency in literacy.


    Gender differences in education ( indicators and education policies)

    A selection of indicators from The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence, Education at a Glance 2015, PIAAC and TALIS.

    Gender inequality in education and in the labour market is a reality and a challenge in various OECD countries. While girls perform better than boys in reading, they score lower in math, and lack self-confidence in scientific subjects. Such differences cannot be explained by differences in ability as girls in top-performing education systems score much higher in math than boys in most other OECD countries; the same is true for boys in reading. On the labour market, even though women outnumber men among university graduates, their employment rates and earnings lag behind those of men. Gender differences reported in student performance, graduation rates, employment rates, and earnings highlight the challenge faced by many governments to create more equal opportunities for boys and girls on many fronts. Policies that can help promote gender equality include: better teaching practices that encourage girls to be interested in science and maths and boys to read more; affordable childcare to allow more women to work full-time; and investment in education that translates into more equal employment conditions.