DfE rejects PISA's new dimension

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I see that the BBC is reporting (thanks, NAEE) that the new PISA tests assessing global competences will not be taken in England.  The DfE is, it seems, joining the United States, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Ireland in deciding not to do so.  Schools in Scotland, Australia and Canada will, however, as I expect will the Welsh.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said it was keen on any test that would help young people to "thrive in today's world".   Since when did any school test do this, I wondered.  She went on:

"The results will help us understand how we can further support young people to be responsible global citizens, capable of taking part in local, regional and global decision making and debate."

The BBC report said:

"The concept of global competence was intended to test how well young people were prepared to work alongside people from different cultures and with different beliefs.  The test will measure tolerance, cultural awareness and how well teenagers can distinguish between reliable sources of information and fake news.  It will consider issues such as racism, cultural identity and prejudice."

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's education director, said the success of education systems had to be measured on more than exam results.  Alongside globalisation and the rise of social media, Schleicher said, there had been a "polarisation" in beliefs, which meant that some teenagers could be left with little awareness of the views of other people.  Schleicher says that the new PISA test is underpinned by the idea that young people should understand other cultures, show respect for "human dignity" and be able to objectively analyse information.

He added that although OECD has been trailing these plans for a new kind of PISA test for the past year, some countries were reluctant to be compared on these measures, and there had been a "hesitation" about moving from discussing students' beliefs to "hard data" from testing them.  "I take a different view" he said, "the only way to get serious ... is to look at the truth."

Truth?  It's hard to know where to start with this balony – other than to note that Schleicher has a lot of personal kudos invested in the new test as I noted last month.  His notion that the test would reveal the countries that paid only "lip service" to the ideas of tolerance and inclusion is risible.  "What do students actually think? What do students actually know?", he asks.  What will he think if they say they think (or know) his new test is rubbish, I wonder?  Of course, that's one question they won't be asked.

It is regrettable, however, that DfE has said that it will not allow schools to take part because this would place an "additional burden" on them.  This is the argument of scoundrels as I noted the other day about PIRLS.  Much better to say that the tests are nonsense, as they undoubtedly are.


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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