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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Measuring 15-year old’s Competency

The assessment of the educational reforms by international standardized assessments has increasingly gained momentum in the process of education policymaking at both national and international levels. The indicators and data obtained particularly from such international benchmarking assessments are extensively used as a policy guides while targeting for any educational reforms. Due to such significance, just within the last two decades, several international surveys have been institutionalized in assessing the students’ knowledge and competency in various domains such as reading, mathematics and science.  
The abstract of our published manuscript
The first of its kind established in 1995 and repeated every 4 years to test learners of 10-14 years was Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Five years later, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was established to assess the learners of 15 years in reading, mathematics and science. Established as a project of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), PISA test is administered repeatedly after every three years. The following year, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which was also responsible for the establishment of the TIMSS, offered another international survey called as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). The PIRLS is repeated every 5 years and study 10-year-old learners’ abilities in reading and literacy.
Since its launch in 2000, the PISA in particular has witnessed a growing number of countries joining it after every assessment survey was conducted. This international survey which was initially envisaged as a means of providing data to base educational policy for the OECD countries later gathered more non-OECD countries. Today, it has reached globally to a greater extent and is not just limited to Europe. The rise in figures have augmented the pressure on OECD to cater to the needs of a larger and diverse set of countries. In response to this challenge, the Programme for International Student Assessment for Development (PISA-D) was launched precisely for the middle and low-income countries to implement PISA framework-based assessment instruments which are designed in accordance with the PISA’s technical standards and usual practices.
The gravity of importance played by such global benchmarking assessment has been taken so seriously by the Ministry of Education that the Bhutan’s participation to PISA-D was endorsed during the 18th National Education Conference held at Phuentsholing last winter in the presence of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Lynchoen Tshering Tobgay. By participating in the PISA-D, it is expected to gather a baseline data of 15-year-old Bhutanese students’ knowledge, skills and competencies in the three domains of reading, mathematics and science. In addition, the relevant stakeholders responsible for improving the national education standards will be drawn together to devise a strategic plans on redefining the competency of our students to perform at an international parity. With these noble perspectives, the schools located across the kingdom that caters schooling to the grade nine students were mandated to institute the PISA-D club and conduct tests as a part of their instructional schedule.
In Wangdue district, the PISA-D tests was a part of the school curricula particularly for the four schools namely Bajothang Higher Secondary School, Gaselo Central School, Phobjikha Central School and Samtengang Central School (later Nobding Lower Secondary School joined). These schools were by default the participating schools as it accommodated the schooling of the 15-year olds. This national programme mandated to be functioning smoothly in the schools often encountered some critical challenges such as inexperience of the teachers pertaining to the conduct of PISA-D tests, inaccessibility of the test materials and other relevant resources. Yet despite these resistive factors, the preparation of for this international tests were executed in these four schools with the direction and status of its progress still unmeasured.
As much as these tests were necessary, an evidence-based perspective to determine the progress of this national enterprise implemented within the district level was apparent and needful. In an attempt to analyze the preparatory progressions towards the PISA-D under Wangdue district, with the generous support from the Chief District Education Officer and my Principal, we have undertaken a preliminary PISA-D preparation survey. The manuscript later got published in the peer-reviewed journal of Royal University of Bhutan, - Bhutan Journal of Research and Development. The publication has not only given me an insight to prepare for the greater test in 2021 (PISA), it has also added as another academic feather to my publication lists.
The details of the authors who were invloved in the study
Later that year, I was also the privileged to the first of the six Science Coders to evaluate the Science Literacy Domain of the PISA-D tests conducted in Bhutan. The results are expected to be out sometime by October this year.
Acknowledged as the Coder for Scientific Literacy Domain
“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know” – Daniel Boorstin

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