1 University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Page: 7525 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.1978
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
Equity is, without controversy, regarded as a key dimension that educational systems need to address. However, the concept of socioeconomic related equity (SRE) has a complex, polysemic nature, inextricably linked to ethical worldviews and political positions (e.g., Espinoza, 2007). Theoretical discussions surrounding the concept of SRE, its definitions, meanings, nature and structure are abundant and often connected to economic science (e.g., Rawls, 2001, 1971; Roemer, 2016; Senn, 2002, 1992; Walzer, 1984), from which the educational sciences have borrowed (UNESCO-UIS, 2018).

PISA provides a significant amount of (quality) data that can be used to address SRE issues. In fact, OECD’s PISA reports systematically provide data on equity. Beyond PISA reports, researchers all over the world have also been taking advantage of the richness and potential of PISA datasets to study equity (change) in participating countries. Importantly, these indicators cover significantly different aspects of SRE, ranging from segregation at different system levels (e.g., public-private; between schools; within schools) to the relationship between background variables and performance (usually referred in the literature as indicative of inequality of opportunities), through inequality of outcomes (e.g., percentage of students that do not achieve a certain threshold of performance, difference between the 90th and 10th performance percentiles), and the percentage of resilience students.

However, both in PISA reports and in the literature that makes use of the PISA datasets, equity tends to be treated at a low-construal, mostly operational level. While it refers to and articulates specific indicators, it fails to consider the centrality of the topic in the social sciences, namely the breadth and the depth of the debate around it. To state it plainly, the concept of equity in PISA reports, as well as in most of the literature that takes advantage of its data, remains largely estranged from the existing theoretical literature in the field, its complexity and resulting potentialities and limitations.

In this presentation, we aim to address this caveat, presenting an overall and coherent framework of the necessary indicators for a comprehensive assessment of SRE in educational systems, providing a needed (and, to the best of our knowledge, lacking) discussion and theoretical classification of the many existing indicators on PISA. While acknowledging the significant potential of PISA’s data and available analyses, we also shed light on their limitations to grasp some crucial dimensions of equity. We start by presenting an overview of the SRE indicators available both in PISA reports and the academic literature, grounded on literature reviews conducted by the authors on this topic. Then, we situate these indicators in relation to a general framework of SRE (construed by the authors) based on available theoretical literature. This presentation brings an important contribution to the study of equity measurement, making clear the diverse facets of equity that are possible to gauge through PISA, and those that are not, with the latter opening the window to the complex but crucial discussion of what other indicators (and data) are needed for a comprehensive monitoring of educational systems’ SRE.
Equity, PISA, ILSAs, socioeconomic inequalities, monitoring, assessment.