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Study of Russian General Education’s International Competitive Ability with the Use of Methods of International Education Quality Surveys and Complex Study of Poor Academic Results

Department: Centre for Financial and Economic Decisions in Education

Коды по классификатору Elibrary:
14.00.00 Народное образование. Педагогика
14.01.00 Общие вопросы народного образования и педагогики
14.01.75 Экономика, организация, управление, планирование и прогнозирование образования

This study was conducted in three research areas:

1. In-depth analysis of PISA results and their changes from 2000 to 2009,

2. The study of the changes in student reading literacy in elementary and primary school

3. Schools with poor academic results: conditions for the transition to effective operations.

The study results of each area are presented in separate parts of the report.

Area 1. In-depth analysis of PISA results in their dynamics from 2000 to 2009

Object: Different dynamics of Russian student achievements in PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) from 2000 to 2009; family and school factors  and their contribution to achievements.


- To estimate the dynamics of PISA results in groups of students from different family social-economic status,

- To estimate the changes in performance among the lowest- and highest achievement students, socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged students

- To estimate the changes of the percentage of students at each of the PISA proficiency levels

- To assess trends of changes in the socio-economic background and school factors in Russia based on PISA data from 2000 to 2009

- To identify school and family background factors which affect a student’s educational performance

Sample: PISA dataset from 2000 to 2009 (http://www.pisa.oecd.org/)

Main results

The average student performance in Russia hasn’t improved since  2000. Differences between the lowest- and highest -achieving students in maths and science decreased, in the reading domain the performance gap between the top and bottom remained the same from 2000 to 2009.

We found out that in Russia, the amount of vertical segregation decreased from 2000. This means that schools became more similar in their results. But horizontal segregation increased, which may have negative consequences.

In 2009, students from rural schools improved their performance when compared to urban school students. The achievements of socio-economically disadvantaged students increased, but students with a high socio-economic status became worse. 

There is an additional positive effect associated with the average level of the socio-economic status of schools. It indicates that students attending high SES schools tend to have better scores than those attending low SES schools.

Area 2. Study of the dynamics of student reading literacy in elementary and primary school

The PIRLS survey of Russian 9-10-year-old elementary schoolchildren showed high literacy scores. The PISA tests, however, indicated that 15-16 year old secondary school students were ill-prepared at using texts for solving a wide range of practical, social and educational problems. To study the major trends in reading literacy in 10-15-year-olds, we developed a diagnostic method combining the PIRLS and PISA approaches. The literacy scores registered in grades 4, 6 and 9 when assessed with one and the same indicator. The results show that two years of study in Russian secondary schools (grades 5 and 6) did not promote students’ ability to understand informational texts. sixth graders are no different from fourth graders when it comes to their understanding of informational texts. Ninth graders performed much better than fourth and sixth graders; nevertheless the progress in reading literacy over five years was quite moderate: just 5 to 16% with selected indicators.

The analysis of the questionnaire allowed us to make several conclusions about the reading habits of students of different ages.

Area 3. Schools with poor academic results: conditions for the transition to effective operations

Subject of research or plan: Schools in three Russian regions operating in difficult social contexts: working effectively, demonstrating low academic achievements and transitioning to a more effective mode of operation.

The goal of the research is to create conditions for improving academic achievement at schools with consistently low results, and support education institutions operating in difficult social contexts.

The sources of data are: statistical observation; social passport of general education institutions; documentation of education institution; data base of results of final exams (State Final Exam, Unified State Exam); and interviews with teachers, administrative personnel and students.


The study confirms the fact that there is high differentiation among education institutions based on academic results and socio-economic characteristics. The academic results were contextualized and analyzed within groups of education institutions with similar socio-economic indicators.

Cases were described and conditions identified for schools working under difficult social conditions, and under various geographic conditions (urban or rural, including remote locations).

Based on the results of the study, recommendations for various levels of administration can be made to help implement programs to improve schools’ results and facilitate their transition to a more effective mode of operation.

International partners: A. Harris – advisor to the education minister of Wales; professor. http://www.almaharris.co.uk/, D. Hawker – professor, University of London Institute of Education. http://www.ioe.ac.uk/