PISA in Practice - Tackling low performance in Maths: Additional Analysis of PISA 2012 in England
PISA in Practice - Tackling low performance in Maths: Additional Analysis of PISA 2012 in England

Bethan Burge and Juliet Sizmur

Research Report, September 2015

This report is part of a series, commissioned by the Department for Education, which showcases some findings from PISA 2012 which teachers can use in the classroom.

The PISA 2012 study allows us to compare the maths ability, engagement and teaching of 15-year-olds in England with that in other countries around the world. This report focuses particularly on what the PISA results say about the links between pupil attitudes and behaviours, such as motivation and perseverance, and low attainment in maths. It explores the characteristics of those pupils who were low performers in maths in PISA, and identifies strategies for overcoming some of the characteristics, behaviours and attitudes associated with low performance.

The evidence from PISA shows there is a positive relationship between performance in maths and pupil engagement. The OECD have also found that the strategies and practices teachers use in the classroom have an important role to play in promoting engagement with school and learning. This report identifies approaches that will help to maximise and enhance pupil involvement in their learning and thereby provide the best possible opportunities for successful, active learning to take place.

Key Findings:
  • England’s average score masks the fact that just over ten per cent of pupils are performing relatively well and that a larger proportion (over 20 per cent) have relatively low performance
  • In England, girls, pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds, pupils with SEN, black pupils and those attending schools with higher proportions of pupils eligible for FSM are more likely to be low performers in the PISA maths assessment
  • Low-performing pupils in England have lower levels of engagement and less positive attitudes towards school than their higher-performing peers
  • Low performing pupils in England have less positive attitudes towards maths and towards school work than their higher performing peers
  • This survey finds that low performing pupils in England, experience a poorer disciplinary climate in their maths lessons than their higher performing peers.

Further Information:
Format: PDF, 30pp, ISBN: 9781910008638
Sponsor(s): DfE


How to cite this publication:
Burge, B. and Sizmur, J. (2015). PISA in Practice - Tackling low performance in Maths: Additional Analysis of PISA 2012 in England. Slough: NFER.

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