What is the PISA standardized test?
PISA stands for Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and is a two-hour standardized test that attempts to assess the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science in 72 different countries. The PISA test was first administered in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is conducted every three years in Alberta, with PISA 2012 being the fifth international ranking.
The PISA assessment is a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions organized in groups based on a passage setting of a real-life situation. Students take various combinations of different tests and are asked (along with their school principals) to answer questionnaires on their backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader education system and learning environment.
he PISA test in the year 2015 covered the domains of science, reading and mathematics, with a focus on scientific literacy. In the year 2012 the spotlight was on mathematics, with reading and science assessed as minor domains, and in 2009 the PISA test focused primarily on 15-year-olds’ reading abilities.
When examining the perceived winners and losers in the past PISA 2012 rankings, it is important to note that the top five education systems have always done extremely well in international standardized tests, especially in math, primarily because they are so test-centric and hyper-focused on mathematics. One of the lesser examined aspects of PISA 2012 was how the test correlated with the rise of a shadow education industry (private tutoring) around the world.
Why should I care?
The PISA ideology accepts that economic imperatives, growth and competitiveness are the primary aims of schooling, and assures that student achievement in math and science are used as the key indicators of the future economic health for a region or society. It fails to recognize that the role of education is much broader and includes (among a host of other responsibilities) the nurturing of social cohesion in rapidly changing complex societies, passing on our diverse cultural heritage and the promotion of civic engagement and citizenship.
Continue Reading (The Alberta Teachers’ Association):
By Phil McRae, ATA Executive Staff Officer