To begin with, I would love to give you a little illustration on what is PISA and how it assess students’ performances. PISA is an international standard test conducted by OECD (Organisation for Economic and Cooperation Development) every three years. This test measures how students (in countries-participants) performed in mathematics, science, and reading after their compulsary basic education. In mathematics, it assesses how students realize the existence and the use of math in their real life, that is, how literate they are with mathematics.
The test is used to measure countries’ achievement in those three literacies, which perhaps, would reflect how the economic condition of the countries several years later.
For Indonesia, itself, the result of the previous test (PISA 2009) has been considered (as background) for the curriculum reform from KTSP to 2013 (new curriculum). This shows how this kind of test affects, at least, to our country.
The result of the latest PISA 2012 test has just been announced. In that year, Mathematics becomes the main focus. In the test, for mathematics framework, Indonesia is in the bottom two (the 64th) from 65 countries which were taking a part. The average students’ score is 375 (or still in level-1 of 6 levels of achievement). This, if compared to other neighbour countries, is still far below. (FYI, Singapore 573/2nd, Vietnam 511/17th, Thailand 427/50th, and Malaysia 421/52nd).
According to my own observation during my first-degree project, Indonesian students mostly failed in understanding the questions. They have difficulty working with words, which implies that they could not really bridge their mathematical understanding to real life.
Another cause is their thought of mathematics as a different part from life condition. This makes our students failed to move from horizontal to vertical mathematisation.
The low reading ability (to understand the series of cases), low self efficacy, and anxiety toward mathematics also took part in this low achievement.
For further overview, you may also consider to visit this slideshare:
#to see the complete report of PISA 2012, click the available link in the post