OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Australia

The achievement of Australia's Indigenous students in PISA 2000-2006

Lisa De Bortoli, ACER
Sue Thomson, ACER


A special focus for Australia has been to ensure that there is a sufficiently large sample of Australia’s Indigenous students so that valid and reliable analysis can be conducted. This has been achieved in each cycle of PISA and this report presents analyses of the achievement of Indigenous students in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in each of the cycles. Achievement is presented in two ways in this report: in terms of mean scores and in terms of proficiency levels. Mean scores allow comparisons with other students and with other countries, and while proficiency levels also allow comparisons, additionally they provide information about what students can and cannot do. Across the three PISA cycles, Indigenous students have performed at a substantially and statistically lower average level in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy than their non-Indigenous peers. In each domain, Indigenous students performed more than 80 score points (or more than one proficiency level) lower than non-Indigenous students and more than 50 score points lower than the OECD average. In terms of proficiency levels, Indigenous students are overrepresented at the lower levels and underrepresented at the upper levels in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.