Six questions to understand the PISA report

Every three years, the OECD makes a big splash in Spain when it publishes the results of the PISA report. The most important education research in the world, which evaluates and compares the educational systems of the planet. The day has come. This December 5, we will know whether Spain will remain in the middle of the table, at the level of countries like Latvia or Lithuania, as has been the case in recent editions, or if there is a significant change in any direction.

This PISA has its peculiarities: planned for 2021, it was finally implemented in 2022 due to the pandemic, and this is the first report after the COVID.

Here is a guide to better understand the test and its features.

1. What is PISA?

PISA is an annual test administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assess the educational systems of applicant countries. The exam is voluntary for each nation and is given to students aged 15 (the age at which compulsory schooling usually ends) regardless of the grade they are in.

The 2022 edition, now under way, featured students from 83 countries who tested in science, maths and reading. Each edition places special emphasis on one of these three aspects, which in the current edition is mathematics. In addition, they assess in each report an innovative competency, which in this report is creative thinking, and the results of which will be published in June 2024.

2. What is your goal?

The answer to this question is negative. PISA does not measure knowledge of course but the students’ skills, that is, how this knowledge is applied to problems that may arise in real life. The goal is not to evaluate students, but the educational system and to find out what works well, where and through what educational policies.

The test also allows, as OECD analyst Pablo Zoido explained, “to learn more about the performance of specific groups of students, such as immigrants or those who speak other languages ​​than those taking the test.”

3. How is it done?

The questions are chosen unanimously by all participating countries and the international advisory committee. They are tested in the previous test and, if they are too easy or difficult, they are eliminated. Each PISA exam contains material for seven hours of testing, from which a different combination is extracted for each student, lasting two hours.

An example question is the following: “Mei-Ling, a Singaporean, was preparing to go to South Africa as an exchange student for 3 months. I needed to exchange some Singapore Dollars (SGD) to South African Rands (ZAR)“. Several questions are raised from this statement (two examples are given):

Mei-Ling learned that the exchange rate between the Singapore dollar and the South African rand was: 1 SGD = 4.2 ZAR. Mei-Ling exchanged 3000 Singapore dollars to South African rand at this rate. How much money did Mei Ling receive in South African Rand?

– At the end of these 3 months, the exchange rate changed from 4.2 to 4.0 ZAR to 1 SGD. Was it in May-Ling’s favor that the exchange rate was ZAR4.0 instead of ZAR4.2 when he exchanged his remaining South African Rands for Singapore dollars? Give an explanation to justify your answer.

Other question models used in previous editions can be found on the page Spanish Institute for Educational Evaluation. PISA is not prepared because it is not a knowledge test, but these released items can help teachers in the classroom.

4. How is the data read?

Each country has its own set of raters based on OECD guidelines for assessment. The results are checked and sent to the organization. “At the OECD, we prepare an international report where we interpret these data. This report is produced in-house, but is reviewed by participating countries and experts in the topics we cover,” explains Guillermo Monti, a member of the PISA team.

The peculiarity of this test is that the results They are available to anyone who wants themAnd the OECD invites researchers to use them and submit their findings.

5. Are there any useful conclusions?

In Spain, according to most experts, no. PISA serves (or should) as a guide for countries to know which policies are working well. However, as José García Montalvo, a professor at Pompeu Fabra, points out, “it does not establish well the causes and differences” between the two.

This is not easy either. The sample of analyzed countries is very diverse, with systems based on different aspects and which cannot be exported. But PISA sets some general recommendations that, at least in Spain, put it under the ear.

6. Is the students’ environment considered?

Students are not only tested on knowledge as if they were out of a bubble. Before taking the exam, they complete a questionnaire detailing aspects of their life, family and attitudes to research to assess their personal context. tion about the school is also sent by the directors of the centers that conduct the tests. When analyzing the results, all these issues related to the student’s socio-economic status and how it affects their performance are taken into account.

“We use these responses to identify the factors most strongly associated with good performance. We also use them to measure the impact of students’ socioeconomic status on their academic performance. We analyze PISA results in different ways because our goal is to find and identify the contexts that promote and facilitate learning,” explains Guillermo Monti, PISA team member.

Source: El Diario

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