Pisa Test Results. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Scottish Education – PISA Test Results


Latest PISA Test results

It was PISA week last week. No, not the leaning tower. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

It’s run by OECD. A representative sample of 15 year olds answer the same set of questions. This year the main focus was on mathematics but there were questions on science and reading too. The results allow comparisons be made between different educational systems, and different nations. How useful those comparisons is disputed by educationalists. More on that is the next blog post..

I tried some of the test questions…

If you fancy trying the questions, you’ll find them at Pisa 2022 Test. You have to understand how to figure out how to answer the questions. Sometimes the arithmetic is done for you. Well I was shocked! the arithmetic was never done for us when I was sitting exams! My first classrooms looked much like this one.

Pisa Test Results. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Are the Scottish results that bad?

The Scotland Government has been lambasted by some commentators and by some MSPs for showing a drop in our results compared to previous years. Actually everyone has shown a drop:

Covid has made an impact on PISA results all over the world. But Scotland has been falling behind the rest of the UK for about ten years. So not good and fair enough that it has attracted comment.

ScotGov have published an analysis of the key insights from PISA 2022 for Scotland. The questions in the 2022 tests focussed on mathematics though there were some on reading and science too.

The decline in Scottish PISA results compared to rest of UK begins around 2012. That coincides with when the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence schools model took effect in Scotland. At least one academic educationalist is suggesting that the decline is an outcome of that new model.

The observed coincidence of decline and change in curriculum is being ascribed by some to be the fault of SNPled governments. Well OK they have been in charge over that period. But remember the curriculum emerged in 2002 from a national debate on eduction held by the then Holyrood Scottish Executive. It was subsequently developed by a Curriculum Review Group set up in 2003. And that group reported in 2004 with the document A Curriculum for Excellence. For those with short memories, the Holyrood Executive back then was a Labour / Liberal Democrat coalition led by Labour as the biggest party.

Did England fiddle their results? Nah.

In PISA, each participating country is represented by a small sample of schools and students randomly selected to reflect its population and educational contexts and provide valid estimates of student achievement. And all countries are required to produce a representative sample of its schools so that no country has an advantage over another in terms of the schools or students being assessed.

So a school can’t put itself forward to participate in PISA. And if it chooses not to particulate then it will be replaced by a school with an equivalent rating. But if a pupil chosen for the survey doesn’t participate then they are not replaced. In any given school, PISA is looking for a pupil participation rate of more than 80%. Less that that level of participation might skew the results.

So although some are of the opinion that England fiddled, or at least tweaked, their pupil sample, that really isn’t possible in terms of the schools chosen to participate. There is the possibility of ‘dissuading’ some of the selected pupils to take part. But really? Who is going to do that and risk the pupil posting it all over social media? And PISA itself says they are satisfied with the overall date and see no distortion in the results.

Is any of this important?

Well look if we’d been soaring ahead of the rest of the world, we’d no doubt be wanting that shouted from the rooftops. So seems only fair that we have to think about how important these figures are and what could be done about them.

For that see our next blog post.

Share this
Join the discussion