Two states in India, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, have participated for the first time in a pilot in the 2009 PISA round of testing. Here's some background information on PISA, documented for later reference.
For a quick and handy description of PISA, its worth spending the 12 minutes to watch this video. The PISA FAQ has more details.
PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is an international study which began in the year 2000. It aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in participating countries/economies. Since the year 2000 over 70 countries and economies have participated in PISA.
The objective of the study is to provide countries with international comparative data as well as with national trend data on reading, mathematical and scientific literacy and problem solving skills of 15 year old students.
The PISA website describes these skills as follows:
Mathematical Literacy: An individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world to make well-founded judgments and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen. More details on PISA's approach to testing mathematical literacy are available here.
Reading literacy: An individual’s capacity to understand, use and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society. More details on PISA's approach to testing reading literacy are available here.
Scientific literacy: The capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it through human activity. More details on PISA's approach to testing scientific literacy are available here.
Problem Solving: In the PISA 2003 cycle, an additional domain of problem solving was introduced to continue the examination of cross-curriculum competencies. More details on PISA's approach to testing problem solving ability are available here.
All students take pencil-and-paper tests, with assessments lasting a total of two hours for each student. For the PISA 2009 assessment, some participating countries/economies have also opted for an assessment of the reading of electronic texts. Test items are a mixture of multiple-choice items and questions requiring students to construct their own responses. The items are organised in groups based on a passage setting out a real-life situation. You can take an interactive version of the tests here.
A total of about seven hours of test items is covered, with different students taking different combinations of test items. Students answer a background questionnaire, which takes 20-30 minutes to complete, providing information about themselves and their homes. School principals are also given a 20-minute questionnaire about their schools.
PISA surveys take place every three years, commencing in 2000. The results of previous surveys have been published by the OECD and are available. The next survey will take place in 2012.
For each survey, one of the three areas (Mathematics, Science and Reading) is chosen as the major assessment domain and it is given greater emphasis. The remaining two areas, the minor domains, are assessed less thoroughly. In 2000 the major domain was reading, in 2003 it was mathematics, in 2006 science and 2009 reading. In 2012 Mathematics will again be the major domain, and a computer-delivered assessment of problem solving will be an innovation.
The design and implementation of PISA for the 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012 data collections has been the responsibility of an international Consortium led by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) with Ray Adams as international project director.
The PISA survey also collects information from students on various aspects of their home, family and school background; and information from schools about various aspects of organisation and educational provision in schools. This information is collected to facilitate a detailed study of factors within and between countries that are associated with varying levels of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy among the 15-year-old students of each country.
The results of the survey are presented in the form of rankings of student performance by country. All the survey data is available for download for any interested researcher. Various reports based on the data look at
and many more in-depth reports look at a variety of specific issues like student learning, equity, the high cost of low educational performance, and country-specific in-depth reports.
- how successful education systems moderate the impact of social background and immigrant status on student and school performance
- 15-year-olds’ motivation, their engagement with reading and their use of effective learning strategies
- how human, financial and material resources, and education policies and practices shape learning outcomes
- the progress countries have made in raising student performance and improving equity in the distribution of learning opportunities
- explores students’ use of information technologies to learn
In the next post, I will look at India's decision to participate in PISA on a pilot basis in the 2009 round and the results from that pilot study.
In other posts, I had looked at