Publication: Strengthening Kazakhstan's Education Systems : An Analysis of PISA 2009 and 2012

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World Bank Group
Kazakhstan's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 performance improved markedly compared to 2009, and indicated a narrowing achievement gap among students. Math and science performance improvements equivalent to more than half a year of schooling were achieved. According to the OECD, 40 points in PISA is equivalent to what students learn in one year of schooling. The improvements reduced the gap with other countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) by almost half. Moreover, the performance improvements of the lowest achievers in 2009 and 2012 outpaced those of their higher achieving peers at a rate that compares favorably against OECD countries. However, performance on reading improved only marginally and overall reading achievement remained low, with some groups of students actually performing worse in 2012. Kazakhstan's PISA performance places it significantly behind other countries, especially in reading. Countries with income per capita levels similar to Kazakhstan's (namely Turkey and Russia) performed significantly better in math, science, and reading. Most importantly, Kazakh reading scores still lag about one year of schooling behind the ECA average and almost two years of schooling behind OECD. Public expenditures on education are lowest in Kazakhstan compared with other PISA 2012 participating countries, which likely hampers the country's ability to ensure effective learning for all. Any increase in public spending on education will have to be aligned with careful policy reform decision making, since resources alone do not guarantee attainment of desired education outcomes.
World Bank Group. 2014. Strengthening Kazakhstan's Education Systems : An Analysis of PISA 2009 and 2012. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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