PASEC 2014 Results

Achievement and test scales
Scale Creation
  • An international reading performance scale and an international mathematics performance scale were constructed using item response theory (the Rasch model).
  • For both scales the international average is 500 points and the standard deviation is 100 points, with all countries being given equal weighting.
  • For both Grade 2 and Grade 6, PASEC developed competency scales for each subject.
  • The PASEC performance scales were divided into several levels, mainly according to the knowledge and abilities required to answer the questions, which were also placed on the scales.
    • Five levels in reading (Below Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4)
    • Four levels in mathematics (Below Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3)
List of Achievement Scales
  • Language Competency Scale – Early Primary
  • Mathematics Competency Scale – Early Primary
  • Reading Competency Scale – Late Primary
  • Mathematics Competency Scale – Late Primary
Questionnaire and background scales
Scale Creation
  • Several of the questions put to pupils, teachers, and principals were synthesized into indexes.
  • The computation of these indexes followed the same development process as the test scores (item response theory, the Rasch model).
  • To facilitate interpretation of the index, results were adjusted to an international scale for which the average is 50 and the standard deviation is 10.
List of Background Scales
  • School infrastructure index
  • Classroom equipment index
Overview of key study results

Competency Levels

  • A vast majority of pupils did not display the competencies expected in primary school. For some countries, this situation was alarming.
    • Early primary pupils not having achieved the “sufficient” level in:
      • Language – more than 70%
      • Mathematics – more than 50%
    • Late primary pupils not having achieved the “sufficient” level: close to 60% of pupils were below this level in both subjects.
  • In early primary school, many pupils’ learning achievements were very fragile.
    • In almost all countries, the weakest pupils after at least two years of primary education experienced great difficulty in understanding even short and familiar oral messages.
    • In mathematics, the pupils in these same countries had not mastered the basic notions of quantity.
  • Pupil competency levels were highly variable in almost all countries, from the first years of primary school.
  • There was a close link between pupils’ performance in language and their performance in mathematics, regardless of any particular difficulties or disparities at the country level.
    • In all countries, there was a strong and positive relationship between early primary pupils’ performance in language and their mathematics results. In every country, pupils and schools that were successful in language achieved high scores in mathematics, and vice-versa.
    • The strong positive relationship between language and mathematics results was confirmed for late primary pupils.
  • At the end of primary school education, the competency gaps displayed were considerable. The best pupils were able to read texts whereas the weakest pupils were still at the stage of decoding words.
    • Of the ten countries, the end-of-primary-school performance gap between the weakest pupils and the strongest was least in Burundi.
    • Senegal, which obtained the highest average reading score of all participating countries and one of the highest scores in mathematics, is the country where the performance gap between pupils was the greatest, regardless of subject.
  • The education systems achieving better results at the beginning of the primary cycle were in turn generally more successful at the end of the cycle, and conversely, as well.
    • Of the ten participating countries, Burundi, Senegal, and Burkina Faso stood out as having a greater share of pupils whose competency levels were satisfactory, both at the beginning and at the end of primary school.
    • Conversely, education systems where pupils were in greatest difficulty at the beginning of the primary cycle (Chad, Niger) were likewise the least successful at the end of primary school.
  • The performance gap between girls and boys was relatively modest in early primary, but tended to widen at the end of the cycle in several countries.


Factors influencing learning achievement

  • Overall, socioeconomic disparities and pupil schooling (grade repetition, preprimary education) translated into different performance levels, both at the beginning and at the end of the primary cycle.
    • Among other factors, pupil performance was related to the availability of books at home.
    • In almost every country, pupils who received preprimary schooling achieved better results, particularly in language.
  • Pupil performance at school also varied according to school characteristics and resources.
    • The performance of schools in rural areas was poorer than that of schools in urban areas.
    • Schools benefitting from better teaching conditions (infrastructure, pedagogical resources, health and hygiene conditions) tended to produce better results.
    • Almost 20% of pupils were being taught in multigrade and double-shift classes. The results showed that generally the performance of pupils of multigrade or double-shift classes was weaker than that of pupils attending standard classes.
  • Teachers
    • In early primary, teachers were generally less qualified and experienced than in late primary.
    • Teachers had a largely unfavorable opinion of school curricula and of their working conditions.