Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a survey conceptualized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regularly conducted every three years since 2000.

On the third of December this year, the results of PISA 2018 will be released. What is PISA exactly? What is there to look forward to? Let’s go over these questions one by one.

What does PISA assess?

PISA assesses the performance of randomly selected 15-year old students from  participant countries (grade 7 or higher) in these three domains:

During 2018, over half a million 15-year-olds from 80 countries and economies took the PISA test. PISA does not ask the students trivial questions regarding dates or places which only gauge the memorization skills of the students. Instead, it is designed to measure the capability of the students to apply what they have learned in school to real-life situations.

With this, they are asked to interpret texts, solve contextualized math problems, as well as explain a phenomenon scientifically.

Apart from these three domains, PISA also wants to determine if the 15-year olds have the necessary social, emotional, and other skills needed for higher studies or in the workplace. Therefore, subjects like collaborative problem solving and financial literacy are also among the aspects tested in the PISA.

Furthermore, the PISA questionnaire also assesses global competence based on the following four dimensions:

  • The capacity to examine issues and situations of local, global and cultural significance
  • The capacity to understand and appreciate different perspectives and worldviews
  • The ability to establish positive interactions with people of different national, ethnic, religious, social or cultural backgrounds or gender
  • The capacity and disposition to take constructive action toward sustainable development and collective well-being.
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Who are involved? 

More than 80 economies participated in PISA 2018. Apart from these countries having students taking the survey, these countries also contribute to the design of PISA. This way, the assessment metrics used by PISA are internationally agreed upon.

How can the results help? 

The abundance of data coming from the regular PISA surveys can greatly help countries determine their current educational capabilities and what aspects they can improve upon.

Yearly, the participating countries are ranked based on their performance in the tests. However, OECD emphasizes that PISA is not about the rankings produced at the end of the assessment. Instead, OECD wants PISA to serve as a platform for the participating countries to learn from one another.

In the process, the PISA participants can together approach the ideal educational system — one that is fair and inclusive to all the students.

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