1 Porto University (PORTUGAL)
2 University of TrĂ¡s-os-Montes and Alto Douro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Page: 7483 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.1967
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
The distribution of educational outcomes is an important feature of national educational systems, often discussed in academic and political debates. It is directly related to issues of unfairness and inequality in educational systems and the consequences they have for societies and economies. Despite global efforts for educational excellence and improvement of overall educational outcomes, there is a growing concern that this should not be achieved at the cost of leaving behind the most academically disadvantaged students. This concern aligns with the United Nations' human development agenda, grounded in the principle that it is morally unacceptable to have children falling behind academically and not achieving the necessary levels of education since it compromises basic human rights and hinders the future of our society.

Analyzing the distribution of educational outcomes across low, average, and high-achievement students offers insight into a national educational strategy. Focusing on the bottom of the academic distribution shows how much children can fall behind compared to the national average. In absolute terms, the proportion of children below a certain benchmark reveals the severity of the problem by indicating the number of students who failed to achieve the basic level of skills and competencies. For this study, we use both the relative (the distribution of the educational outcomes) and the absolute (the proportion of the underachieving students) measures of inequality of educational outcomes. With these measures, we track the changes in the inequality of educational outcomes on the national level using the data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from 2000 to 2022. We analyze all the countries that participated in PISA during this time period; however, to build the trajectories, we select the countries that participated at least 2 times. Exploring the trends in the inequality of educational opportunity on the country level helps to highlight the successful country cases and evaluate the progress over the last 22 years. Examining the changes and exploring the distribution of educational outcomes is important for national and global policymaking. The findings can be useful for policymakers, education stakeholders, and the general public, fostering awareness and accountability toward established educational objectives and outcomes.
Educational Equity, Inequality of Outcomes, PISA.