PISA 2012 Framework

Assessment or survey framework

Mathematics framework

Definition: Mathematical literacy is an individual’s capacity to formulate, employ, and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts. It includes reasoning mathematically and using mathematical concepts, procedures, facts and tools to describe, explain and predict phenomena. It assists individuals to recognise the role that mathematics plays in the world and to make the well-founded judgments and decisions needed by constructive, engaged and reflective citizens.

Organization of the domain along three dimensions:

  • Mathematical processes
    • Describe:
      • What individuals do to connect the context of the problem with mathematic and thus solve the problem, and
      • The capabilities that underlie such processes.
    • Include:
      • Communication
      • Mathematizing
      • Representation
      • Reasoning and argument
      • Development of strategies for solving problems
      • Use of symbolic, formal, and technical language and operations
      • Use of mathematical tools
  • The mathematical content targeted for use in the assessment items:
    • Change and relationships
    • Space and shapes
    • Quantity
    • Uncertainty and data
  • The contexts in which the assessment items are located:
    • Personal
    • Occupational
    • Societal
    • Scientific


Reading framework

Definition: Reading literacy is understanding, using, reflecting on and engaging with written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, develop one’s knowledge and potential, and participate in society.

Organization of the domain along three dimensions:

  • Situation
    • Explanation:
      • Defines texts and their associated tasks.
      • Refers to the range of broad contexts or purposes for which reading takes place.
    • Includes
      • Personal
      • Public
      • Educational
      • Occupational
  • Text refers to the range of material that is read
    • Medium: print and digital
    • Environment: authored, message-based, and mixed
    • Text format: continuous, non-continuous, mixed and multiple
    • Text type: description, narration, exposition, argumentation, instruction, and transaction
  • Aspect refers to the cognitive approach that determines how readers engage with a text:
    • Retrieving information
    • Forming a broad understanding
    • Developing an interpretation
    • Reflecting on and evaluating the content of a text
    • Reflecting on and evaluating the form of a text.


Science framework

Definition: Scientific literacy refers to an individual’s scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, acquire new knowledge, explain scientific phenomena and draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues; understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and enquiry; awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual and cultural environments; willingness to engage in science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen.

Organization of the domain along four dimensions:

  • Context – Recognizing life situations involving science and technology:
    • Health
    • Natural resources
    • Environment
    • Hazards
    • Frontiers of science and technology in personal, social, and global contexts
  • Knowledge – Understanding the natural world on the basis of scientific knowledge:
    • Two types of knowledge
      • Knowledge of the natural world
      • Knowledge about science itself
    • Including
      • Physical systems
      • Living systems
      • Earth and space systems
      • Technology systems
      • Scientific enquiry
      • Scientific explanations
  • Competencies – Demonstrating scientific competencies:
    • Identifying scientific issues
    • Explaining phenomena scientifically
    • Using scientific evidence
  • Attitudes
    • Including:
      • Indications of an interest in science
      • Support for scientific enquiry
      • Motivation to act responsibly towards, for example, natural resources and environments.
    • But no contextualized (embedded) attitudinal items, because science constitutes a minor part of the assessment in PISA 2012.


Problem-solving framework

Definition: Problem-solving competency is an individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious. It includes the willingness to engage with such situations in order to achieve one’s potential as a constructive and reflective citizen.

Organization of the domain along three dimensions:

  • The problem context
    • Whether or not a technological device is involved
    • Whether the focus of the problem is personal or social
  • The nature of the problem situation
    • Interactive or
    • Static
  • The problem-solving processes – the cognitive processes involved in solving a problem:
    • Exploring and understanding
    • Representing and formulating
    • Planning and executing
    • Monitoring and reflecting


Financial literacy framework

Definition: Financial literacy is knowledge and understanding of financial concepts and risks, and the skills, motivation and confidence to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make effective decisions across a range of financial contexts, to improve the financial well-being of individuals and society, and to enable participation in economic life.

Organization of the domain along three dimensions:

  • Content – the essential areas of knowledge and understanding in the area of literacy in question:
    • Money and transactions
    • Planning and managing finances
    • Risk and reward
    • Financial landscape
  • Processes – the mental strategies or approaches called upon to negotiate financial material:
    • Identifying financial information
    • Analyzing information in a financial context
    • Evaluating financial issues
    • Applying financial knowledge
    • Understanding
  • Contexts – the situations in which the domain knowledge, skills, and understandings are applied, ranging from the personal to the global:
    • Education and work
    • Home and family
    • Individual
    • Societal
Contextual or background framework

School input and school context

  • Community size
  • Enrolment per gender
  • Public/private
  • Quantity of teaching staff
  • School resources


Class context

  • Size, composition, teacher training, education
  • Quality of instruction
  • Opportunity to learn
  • Instructional time, grouping, assessment, and feedback


Student background

  • Gender, grade, socio-economic status, immigrant background, language
  • Parental occupation, education, family wealth


Student-teacher relations


Mathematics processes

  • Ability grouping in mathematics
  • Mathematics activities
  • Mathematics teaching staff (qualifications, evaluation policies, mathematics teacher consensus)

Non-cognitive outcomes (general and mathematics)

  • Interest in and enjoyment of mathematics
  • Instrumental motivation
  • Self-efficacy, self-concept, mathematics anxiety