The Indian Government seems to have been reluctant initially to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. In reply to a question in Parliament on March 10th, 2008 by Rajya Sabha MP, Rahul Bajaj on the reasons for India not participating in the PISA tests, Arjun Singh, the then Minister for HRD, didn't answer the question, but instead responded saying,
The Government of India conducts its own pupil learning achievement surveys under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) through National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) aimed to track changes in learning achievement levels of students and to give a national picture of the status of students learning levels. NCERT conducted such sample surveys for Class V in 2002-03, for Class III and Class VII/VIII in 2003-04 and for Class-V in 2006-07. The NCERT surveys cover a representative sample of students across districts.
Subsequently, the government seems to have changed its mind and decided to participate in the PISA tests on a pilot basis. In NCERT's Annual Report for 2008-09 (p117), there is a mention of Prof. Avtar Singh of NCERT attending the National Project Managers Meeting of PISA 2009 cycle at Frankfurt in February 2009. To my knowledge, there is no other mention of PISA on any of the government web sites or documents.
By the time India and eight other countries decided to participate in the PISA tests in the 2009 cycle, 65 countries had already completed the testing in the 2009 cycle. So these nine countries participating for the first time conducted the PISA tests in a separate round termed the PISA 2009+ cycle.
A February 2011 report by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) office in India on the preparation for conducting the PISA tests in the two states in India as part of the 2009+ round provides some context and background.
In 2009 PISA cycle, 65 countries (32 member and 33 non member) participated. In India after continuous deliberation among the leading educational policy making institutes like MHRD, NCERT, NUEPA, CBSE and development partners like World Bank, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between OECD and MHRD regarding India’s participation in PISA in 2009 plus cycle. As it was late for any country to participate in PISA, a new timeline was developed to accommodate India and eight other countries (Georgia, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Malaysia, Moldova, Venezuela (Miranda), Malta, UAE (except Dubai). Initially it was suggested, India was to participate in PISA with four states but on further deliberations it was decided that only two Indian states (Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) will participate in this prestigious activity.
World Bank contracted Australian Council for Educational Research (India) to support NCERT in conducting PISA 2009 plus in India in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for training of personnel involve in field administration (school coordinator & test administrator), quality monitoring of field administration, training of coders and supervision of coding activities.
In India, PISA is administered in three languages i.e., English, Hindi and Tamil.
There are more details in the ACER India report on how personnel were trained to administer the PISA tests in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, how quality was monitored and the challenges faced in adminstering the PISA tests in India for the first time. Around 16,000 students from 400 schools in these two states were tested as part of the PISA 2009+ cycle of tests.
In an earlier post, I had looked at PISA: What? Why? How? and in the next post, I will look at the results of the PISA 2009+tests in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.
In other posts, I had looked at
- Programme for International Student Assessment: What? Why? How?
- India's participation in PISA 2009+ cycle: Terminology & Caveats
- India's participation in PISA 2009+ cycle: Results from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu