SLODRE roundtable

On 20 March, the Educational Research Institute and the Slovenian Educational Research Association (SLODRE) organised the panel discussion ”What Does PISA Tell Us about the Slovenian Students” (Non-)achievement of Basic Levels of Literacy?”, which took place at the Educational Research Institute. The panellists presented their diverse views on the non-achievement of the basic level of reading literacy in PISA, which were at the Educational Research Institute developed throughout last year as part of the European Commission project ”Raising Awareness and Opportunities of Lifelong Learning for Low Achievers”.

Dr Mojca Štraus presented the findings of secondary analyses, which provided an insight into the differences between the group of low-performing students and the group of higher-performing students in terms of factors related to students” environment and their attitude to reading. Based on the analysis of a number of different factors correlated with reading literacy in PISA she pointed out that in the low-performing group conclusions can be drawn about students” lack of familiarity with strategies for processing texts. Endeavours to improve the levels of reading competencies must therefore take into consideration both students” diverse interests and their different starting competencies, as high levels or reading competencies result from persistent practice and engagement, which is closely connected with a high level of motivation for reading and learning.

The latter, i.e. motivation as an important factor in reading literacy, was the main focus of the paper by Klaudija Šterman Ivančič. Both at an international level and as part of secondary analyses of PISA 2009 in Slovenia, students” motivation for reading has been revealed as one of the most significant factors influencing reading performance. The results of secondary analyses indicate that in Slovenia greater frequency of different online reading activities, in general, goes hand in hand with improved reading performance. Based on the results of conducted analyses, Šterman Ivančič pointed out that reading electronic texts and using ICT can become one of the sources of motivation for reading, especially for students who are less motivated to read and who demonstrate a poorer reading performance – providing it is all carefully planned in terms of didactic and methodological elements and appropriately applied and teachers are suitably trained.

Dr Urška Štremfel presented the achievement of basic levels of reading literacy in PISA in terms of discussion about the social and economic development of modern societies. She devoted special attention to the below-average performance of Slovenian students in reading literacy in comparison with the international (OECD, EU) average and also to the strategies adopted by the European Union to steer the member states towards achieving the European strategic objective according to which ”the EU-level percentage of students who fail to achieve basic levels of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in PISA ought to be under 15% by 2020”.

The fact that this is a highly topical issue was further confirmed by the panel discussion moderated by Dr Janja Žmavc that followed the introductory presentations. The panellists presented their diverse professional insights into the issues present within the Slovenian educational space associated with the non-achievement of basic levels of literacy by Slovenian students, the reasons for this and the different options for finding solutions. The panel discussion also touched upon the question whether it is – in view of Slovenia”s PISA 2012 results and the trends noticeable in some other participating countries – reasonable and realistic to expect Slovenia will by 2020 get closer to meeting the aforementioned European strategic objective in this field.