9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Education and Educational Achievement Building II, B2.02

The stratification of literacy European space using youth performances in PISA scales: reading, mathematics and science

Since 2000, PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) has been focused on assessing the acquisition of knowledge and skills 15 year olds need in future life rather than the mastery of the school curriculum. This study covers three core domains of student literacy - reading, mathematics and science - with an in-depth study of each in a three year cycle. These major domains were reading literacy in 2000, mathematical literacy in 2003 and, finally, scientific literacy in 2006.
Our main goal is to map European space in terms of these skills using as our starting point the fact that the countries' profiles are simultaneously structured by these assessed domains.
It is therefore essential to explore the profile configurations of the countries, handling the interrelationships between the three assessed domains using a multivariate method of data analysis: Principal Components Analysis for Categorical Data (CatPca). This non-linear analysis of principal components allows quantitative variables - performance averages on PISA scales using plausible values - to be combined with qualitative variables, in this case, the country (Gifi 1996; Meulman et al., 2004). By applying CATPCA, from 2000 until 2006, profile-types were identified and because we overlapped the country position in the structure defined by those variables, we distinguish groups of European countries with similar profiles.
Besides the strong association among the three domains and the heterogeneity observed in groups of countries, we find a stratified European space in reading, mathematics and science literacy.
In order to evaluate if gender and socio-economic status (using HISEI - Highest International Socio-Economic Index) could be seen as moderating variables in that stratified space of literacy we performed two other analyses. In what concerns gender, the data was split and we explored the performance of young male and female European students. Finally another CATPCA was implemented to graphically show the contours between reading, mathematics and science literacy and socio-economic status.