PISA Test and Education Policy

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.

PISA features:

  • PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • PISA is a two-hour long test conducted via computer.
  • Students, who are 15-year-old and have completed or are near the end of their compulsory education take up the test
  • PISA also requires student who undertakes the test to have completed at least six years of formal schooling.
  • PISA measures the 15-year-old students reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years.
  • PISA does not test a student’s memory and curriculum-based knowledge rather PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling.
  • PISA focuses on the student’s ability to use their ability to tackle real-life challenge.
  • PISA is also criticised for the fact that it is obsessed with standardised testing relying heavily on quantitative measures.

PISA and India:

  • India had participated in PISA 2009.
  • The test ranked India poorly and the performance of Indian students was abysmally poor.
  • India was ranked 72nd rank among 74 participating countries.
  • Then government of India boycotted PISA, blaming “out of context” questions for India’s dismal performance.
  • India has expressed its willingness to be part of 2021 test.
  • India is applying with Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, and all schools, private and government, in Chandigarh for the 2021 test.
  • India has requested OECD to conduct PISA-like assessment for students of Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs) annually from next year to familiarise themselves with their testing pattern in the run up to the grand assessment in 2021.
  • To address the socio-cultural disconnect between the test questions and students, The Indian Express has learnt that OECD has agreed to add an Indian touch to the questions like replacing the word avocado with more popular Indian fruit such as mango.

PISA and Education policy making:

  • In today’s interconnected world PISA is increasingly influencing the education policy in some of the world’s most economically advanced countries.
  • Pisa shock experienced by Germany when it found itself much lower down the rankings than expected in 2001  and sliding down in the ranking of Wales led to changes in their education policy.
  • PISA is criticised for the fact that Countries that do well are put up on a pedestal and they are hesitant to reform their education for fear of losing their spot.
  • Japan tried to reform its education policy but once they noticed slipping in PISA rankings they went back on reforms.
  • In 2013 PISA was severely criticised for using techniques that were utterly wrong for compilations. Even the OECD admitted to large variation in single country ranking positions is likely because of the methods.
  • OECD then revealed that it has started to move away from the Rasch model method it used to calculate a country’s score and ranking.

India’s decision to join PISA is in accordance with the recommendation of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) committee and as per recommendations of the group of secretaries on education constituted by Prime Minister.

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