11 December 2013
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests are always controversial, and the latest results are no exception, with the OECD’s education expert, Andreas Schleicher, defending them and others questioning their value.
Here are some thoughts on PISA for you to comment on below:
PISA tests are a test of how well children do at PISA tests.
It is difficult to make comparisons between different education systems.
Translating the tests into different languages is an additional obstacle to performance.
- Some countries prepare children specifically for PISA tests – in this country we don’t.
PISA is a low-stakes test in terms of schools’ priorities so children don’t take it as seriously as they do their GCSEs, for example, because there is no qualification at the end, therefore they perform less well.
The PISA questions are not the same as those that children are being prepared for in GCSE so they are more in alignment with some countries’ systems than others.
- Countries with the greatest success also have the highest suicide rates because of the enormous pressure on children at school and through additional tuition. At what cost is high achievement? Is education about producing rounded, thinking individuals or exam-passing machines?
- There are now more countries than before taking part so it is only to be expected that long-standing countries’ positions will change.
The research institutions in the different countries select the samples and administer the tests. Some countries are more selective, for example in excluding poorer performing students.
It’s not a good idea to jump to simplistic conclusions. It appears that Scotland, where schools still an LEA service, has done better than England and that both have done better than Northern Ireland, which has a selective system. What conclusions do we draw from that?