PISA 2012 Results - Introduction

Science Literacy

In PISA 2012, science literacy is defined as:

An individual’s scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, to acquire new knowledge, to explain scientific phenomena, and to draw evidence based conclusions about science-related issues; understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and inquiry; awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual, and cultural environments; and willingness to engage in science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen (OECD 2013, p. 100).

Science literacy is reported both in terms of proficiency levels and scale scores (reported on a scale of 01,000). Exhibit S1 describes the six science literacy proficiency levels and their respective cut scores.

Exhibit S1. Description of PISA proficiency levels on science literacy scale: 2012

Proficiency level and lower cut score Task descriptions
Level 6

At level 6, students can consistently identify, explain, and apply scientific knowledge and knowledge about science in a variety of complex life situations. They can link different information sources and explanations and use evidence from those sources to justify decisions. They clearly and consistently demonstrate advanced scientific thinking and reasoning, and they use their scientific understanding in support of solutions to unfamiliar scientific and technological situations. Students at this level can use scientific knowledge and develop arguments in support of recommendations and decisions that center on personal, social, or global situations.
Level 5

At level 5, students can identify the scientific components of many complex life situations, apply both scientific concepts and knowledge about science to these situations, and can compare, select and evaluate appropriate scientific evidence for responding to life situations. Students at this level can use well-developed inquiry abilities, link knowledge appropriately, and bring critical insights to situations. They can construct explanations based on evidence and arguments based on their critical analysis.
Level 4

At level 4, students can work effectively with situations and issues that may involve explicit phenomena requiring them to make inferences about the role of science or technology. They can select and integrate explanations from different disciplines of science or technology and link those explanations directly to aspects of life situations. Students at this level can reflect on their actions and they can communicate decisions using scientific knowledge and evidence.
Level 3

At level 3, students can identify clearly described scientific issues in a range of contexts. They can select facts and knowledge to explain phenomena and apply simple models or inquiry strategies. Students at this level can interpret and use scientific concepts from different disciplines and can apply them directly. They can develop short statements using facts and make decisions based on scientific knowledge.
Level 2

At level 2, students have adequate scientific knowledge to provide possible explanations in familiar contexts or draw conclusions based on simple investigations. They are capable of direct reasoning and making literal interpretations of the results of scientific inquiry or technological problem solving.
Level 1

At level 1, students have such a limited scientific knowledge that it can only be applied to a few, familiar situations. They can present scientific explanations that are obvious and follow explicitly from given evidence.

NOTE: To reach a particular proficiency level, a student must correctly answer a majority of items at that level. Students were classified into science literacy levels according to their scores. Cut scores in the exhibit are rounded; exact cut scores are provided in table AA2. Scores are reported on a scale from 0 to 1,000.
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 2012.