This book examines the results of the special portion of the 2003 PISA survey of student achievement that relates to problem-solving skills. Covering 40 countries, it provides, for the first time, a direct assessment of life competencies that apply across different areas of the school curriculum. The assessment looked at students' abilities to identify problems in various settings, to choose relevant information or constraints, to represent possible alternatives or solution paths, to develop solution strategies, to solve the problem, and to communicate the solution.
This report examines how countries can raise their performance in this competency area and what countries with lower performance levels can learn from those whose students do well. It also provides insights into some of the factors that are associated with the development of problem-solving skills and into how these factors interact and what the implications are for policy development. Finally, the report sheds light on countries that succeed in achieving high performance levels while at the same time providing an equitable distribution of learning opportunities.