1996-3777 (online)
1990-8539 (print)
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A series of reports on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) periodic testing program on student performance. The reports generally compare student (15 year olds) academic performance across countries, or discuss the methodology used to gather the data.

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The Experience of Middle-Income Countries Participating in PISA 2000-2015

The Experience of Middle-Income Countries Participating in PISA 2000-2015 You or your institution have access to this content

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Marlaine Lockheed, Tijana Prokic-Bruer, Anna Shadrova
27 Nov 2015
9789264246195 (PDF) ;9789264246188(print)

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This report provides a systematic review and empirical evidence related to the experiences of middle-income countries and economies participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), 2000 to 2015. PISA is a triennial survey that aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 countries and economies have participated in the assessment, including 44 middle-income countries, many of which are developing countries receiving foreign aid. This report provides answers to six important questions about these middle-income countries and their experiences of participating in PISA: What is the extent of developing country participation in PISA and other international learning assessments? Why do these countries join PISA? What are the financial, technical, and cultural challenges for their participation in PISA? What impact has participation had on their national assessment capacity? How have PISA results influenced their national policy discussions? And what does PISA data tell us about education in these countries and the policies and practices that influence student performance?

The findings of this report are being used by the OECD to support its efforts to make PISA more relevant to a wider range of countries, and by the World Bank as part of its on-going dialogue with its client countries regarding participation in international large-scale assessments.

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    Although large numbers of children in developing countries have been able to enter school over the past two decades, many young people – especially the disadvantaged, young girls, those living in rural areas and ethnic minorities – are still leaving school without the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in society and find decent livelihoods. This has led to a general consensus that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for education should include a focus on learning. That, in turn, makes reliable metrics on the quality of learning outcomes truly essential.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive Summary

    The Education 2030 agenda that is set within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in September 2015 emphasises the quality, equity and measurement of learning outcomes for young children through to working adults. This report serves to inform Education 2030 discussions through an analysis of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as it has been experienced in middle-income countries.

  • Overview: Lessons from international and regional educational assessments

    This chapter provides the rationale for undertaking this study on the experiences of middle-income countries in relation to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and an overview of its analyses, conclusions and recommendations. It links PISA with the PISA for Development initiative and presents the questions the report seeks to answer. It also provides a summary of the findings from the review of evidence and the analyses conducted for the study. It draws conclusions and makes recommendations for the OECD, the World Bank and other development partners and for low- and middle-income countries.

  • International large-scale assessments: Origins, growth and why countries participate in PISA

    This chapter describes the origins of international large-scale assessments, presents evidence regarding the worldwide growth in such assessments, and analyses the broad determinants of participation in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). It links PISA participation with countries’ economic status and their experience with national and other international large-scale assessments. The empirical analyses presented in the second section of this chapter use selected time-series data for over 200 countries/economies to empirically estimate the determinants of PISA participation. The third section examines country-by-country variations in PISA participation over time. The fourth section draws on interviews with various policy actors to explore the PISA experience of selected low- and middle-income case study countries. A final section draws conclusions about what factors contribute to a country’s decision to participate in PISA and implications for the expansion of PISA participation.

  • What have been the challenges facing middle-income countries participating in PISA?

    This chapter explores three sets of challenges facing middleincome countries that participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA): costs of participation, capacity for implementing PISA, and the country context for PISA. It reviews the evidence for each type of challenge, drawing on the literature and interviews with representatives from middle-income countries participating in PISA 2015. The first section of the chapter explores the general challenges of cost, as well as the challenges of specific expenditure items, and the role of donor support in meeting the financial challenges. The second section examines a range of technical challenges, including analytical challenges such as instrument development, scientific sampling and data analysis, as well as operational challenges presented by common timelines, sampling in federal countries, translation in multiple languages, survey implementation, and coding. The third section describes context challenges due to a country’s political economy, regulatory environment and national culture.

  • What have been the capacity-building outcomes for countries participating in PISA?

    In order for countries to carry out more effective assessments of student learning, they must build or enhance country capacity in three areas: the enabling context for assessment, the alignment of all aspects of the education system, and assessment quality. The first section of this chapter examines how capacity has been measured, drawing on World Bank Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER)-Student Assessment reports. The second section explores how development partners and multilateral donors have helped build capacity for assessment, through training, technical publications and hands-on capacity building. The third section examines the evidence linking these activities to improved capacity, focusing on evidence from various international large-scale assessments and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This section also explains the capacity development activities of PISA for Development.

  • How have PISA results informed education policy discussions and affected policy in middle-income countries?

    This chapter explores the extent to which the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has informed education policy in middle-income countries. The first section of the chapter provides a brief review of the education policy process, drawing attention to the important role of discussion and debate in goal-setting and policy formulation. The second section presents new empirical evidence regarding education policy discussions in middle-income countries participating in PISA, drawing from the analysis of media in middle-income case study countries. The third section reviews the evidence of education policy reforms in these countries and their linkages with PISA, drawing on reviews of donor support for assessment, the use of PISA in general policy dialogue, and the use of PISA in identifying specific policy issues related to the quality and equity of education systems. The fourth section examines the evidence related to PISA’s impact on policy agendas and country-level reforms. A final section presents conclusions and implications.

  • What does PISA data tell us about education in middle-income countries?

    This chapter reviews the evidence regarding the quality and equity of education in middle-income countries, as shown through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 assessment of mathematics. The first section documents the extent of educational quality and inequality in the mathematics performance of students in 18 middle-income countries that participated in PISA 2012, as presented in OECD publications. The second section reviews the empirical evidence for systemic institutional factors (accountability, autonomy competition, tracking and preschool) that are related to higher levels of performance, generally, and as they are related to performance in the 18 countries participating in PISA 2012. It also examines school factors (school inputs, teacher quality, and instructional time) generally related to student performance in low- and middleincome countries and in the 18 middle-income countries participating in PISA 2012. The third section reports the results from new multi-level analyses and other statistical approaches undertaken for this chapter that further explore these topics.

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