OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Australia

Publication Date



Aboriginal education, Student assessment


The three-yearly PISA assessments provide an opportunity to monitor the performance of Australian students in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. In particular, the assessments allow us to examine the performance of particular equity groups; to look at how well particular groups of 15-year-old students, approaching the end of their compulsory schooling are prepared for meeting the challenges they will face in their lives beyond school. 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.