The OECD's education director, Andreas Schleicher, has written an article for the BBC about his brave 'n' bold plans to have a focus on "global competence" in forthcoming PISA exams. Good luck, I thought when I read it. This is a lot more difficult than testing math(s), but it's not clear that Schleicher understand this. The clue is in the definition:
"The capacity to analyse global and intercultural issues critically and from multiple perspectives, to understand how differences affect perceptions, judgements, and ideas of self and others, and to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with others from different backgrounds on the basis of a shared respect for human dignity".
"[education is] about making sure that children develop a reliable compass, the navigation skills and the character qualities that will help them find their own way through an uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world. Schools need to prepare students for a world where many will need to collaborate with people of diverse cultural origins. They will need to appreciate different ideas, perspectives and values. It's a world in which people need to decide how to trust and collaborate across differences. Schools can provide opportunities for young people to learn about global development, equip them with the means of accessing and analysing different cultures, help students engage in international and intercultural relations, and foster the value of the diversity of people.
That's as may be, and as Schleicher says, there's a lot of this already going on in schools. But that does not mean it can, or should, be tested. It is clear from the OECD's own definition of global competence (above) that this is something that can only be developed over time, and through practice in real-life contexts. It also seems a possibility that, in order to get the right answers – unlike in math(s) – young people will have to align themselves to OECD's values, which won't be universally popular. My prediction is that these tests will not see the light of day.