Pisa being revamped to test teenagers' online skills

10th December 2014 at 00:01

The world’s most influential school reading test is going to be revamped to assess whether teenagers can tell whether material on the internet is “credible”, it emerged today.

Pisa (the Programme for International Student Assessment), used to compile global rankings of national school systems, has tested the reading ability of 15-year-olds since it began in 2000.  

But now the reading element is going to be overhauled over the next four years to take account of the “digital environment”.

The revelation comes from Pearson which has just won the contract to develop the framework for Pisa 2018. 

The international education company says one of its “main tasks” will be to “redefine reading literacy, taking into account how young people are taught to approach the digital environment, including how to recognise credible websites and online documents”.

It will also have to develop a framework for a new “measurement of global competence”, designed to “assess students’ awareness of the interconnected global world we live and work in and their ability to deal effectively with the resulting demands”.

Global competence will be the latest ‘21st century’ skill to be added to the more traditional Pisa domains of reading, maths and science.

It follows problem solving in Pisa 2012 and collaborative problem solving which will be introduced next year.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD official who heads Pisa, first revealed the plans for a global competence test to TES last year.

Asked exactly what might be tested, he said: “Foreign languages is the most obvious part but also the capacity of individuals to engage in different value systems, the capacity of individuals to make sound judgements… Can you deal with uncertainty? Can you deal with ambiguity?”

This week he said: “Pisa 2018 has the potential to be the start of a new phase of our international assessments. We can now make much smarter use of technology in how we test young people, and we need global competence as governments around the world seek to equip young people with the skills they need for life and employment.”

Pearson will also be responsible for the math and science frameworks for the 2018 assessment, expected to taken by around 70 countries.

The company’s chief executive John Fallon said: “We are developing global benchmarks that, by assessing a wider range of skills, will help more young people to prosper in the global economy.”

England only entered the Pisa 2012 problem solving test after a u-turn by the coalition government. But last night the Department for Education said the country would participating in collaborative problem solving in 2015 and the pilot for the global competence assessment.

Related stories:

U-turn? English pupils sat Pisa “thinking skills” tests despite government vow that they wouldn’t August 1 2013

Pisa's tests could get curiouser and curiouser June 21 2013

Mr Gove fixes Pisa's new problems by ignoring them October 7 2011


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