HOW DO WE MEASURE OURSELVES AGAINST OTHER EDUCATION SYSTEMS?

England participates in three research studies that enable international benchmarking of the performance of our pupils against the performance of their peers in other countries:

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which compares the mathematics, science and reading competence of 15-year-olds across participating countries. Further information can be found online at: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which compares the mathematics and science abilities of pupils in year 5 and year 9 in England with their peers in comparable grades in participating countries. More information can be found online at: http://www.iea.nl/timss_2015.html

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which compares the reading ability of pupils in year 5 in England with their peers in comparable grades in participating countries. This is available online at: http://www.iea.nl/pirls_2016.html

Northern Ireland also participates in each of these three studies, and all four UK countries participate in the OECD’s PISA study.

In England and Wales, schools can also access the OECD’s PISA-based test for schools, which provides schools with a tool to benchmark the performance of their 15-year-old pupils within and beyond local and national borders, and is available online at: www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/pisa-based-test-for-schools.htm

Benchmarking against the best in the world is thought to be good practice.  But there are concerns that data used from these studies are misused (a concern shared by Andreas Schleicher of OECD who presides over  PISA) and are   taken out of context  by politicians who rarely know the difference, it seems,  between causation and correlation.

England performs better than both Wales (a laggard) and Scotland in PISA tables. Interestingly, although much is made of the fact that England performs comparatively poorly in the tables  (the latest showing no real movement up or down) and our politicians use PISA to exhort our schools to do better, there is nothing  obvious in recent education reforms  in England, which have focused mainly on structural reforms,  that will ensure that our students do any  better in the PISA  tests,  next time round. PISA tests aim not so much to test students’  knowledge, as to test students ability to use  retained knowledge to problem solve.

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3 thoughts on “HOW DO WE MEASURE OURSELVES AGAINST OTHER EDUCATION SYSTEMS?

  1. Exactly how do OECD Pisa “measure” the education system of an entire country in 3 numbers?
    If an aircraft appears to be off course the first thing pilots and engineers do is have the instrumentation checked, for
    safety and reputational reasons.
    The Tes published critiques of OECD Pisa on July 26, 2013 but immediately permitted Andreas Schleicher to swat away concerns over “fundamental flaws” in the ranking system the following week without allowing the critics such as Dr Hugh Morrison of
    Queen’s. University, Belfast to counter the defence with evidence.
    I have contacted William Stewart of Tes about my concerns but have yet to see a follow up piece addressing critical issues from the academics. However the MSM, the BBC, educationalists, politicians and even Sir David Spiegelhalter (albeit with some caveats) persist in citing Pisa as a reliable measure.
    Rather than find the OECD exam become a global test for all students by design & commercial interests (Tony Blair’s pal Sir Michael Barber is chief education advisor to Pearson) Pearson are developing the 2018 Student Assessment 21st century frameworks for OECD surely it is time that a thorough check of the OECD Pisa instrumentation is carried out by those not steeped in conflicting interests?
    Full disclosure is vital before the UK’s examination system is discarded entirely for a profitable venture promoted by those guided by self interest & corporate greed.

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