Pisa developing 'creativity' tests for pupils

5th October 2017 at 12:03
creativity could be included in pisa rankings
Work on how to assess pupils' ability to imagine and create will be led by academics in Britain and the US

Teenagers worldwide could be ranked on their creative thinking, under proposals for the 2021 Pisa tests.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which is run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is best known for measuring how 15-year-olds do in maths, reading and science.

But now an advisory group has been asked to come up with a definition of creative thinking that can be assessed, and to recommend how to assess it, for the influential Pisa rankings.

The group is being co-chaired by Bill Lucas, professor of learning at the University of Winchester and Jack Buckley, senior vice-president for Research and Evaluation at the American Institutes of Research.

“Creative thinking is a multi-faceted concept involving the generation and refining of ideas as well as the processes by which such thinking can be improved," Professor Lucas, who is director of the Centre for Real-World Learning (CRL) said.

“Part of Pisa’s role here is to innovate, not to say ‘here’s another subject’, but to find what is already done across the curriculum and look at opportunities to link subjects together.”

The advisory group's work over the coming months is expected to draw on a model created by Professor Lucas and the CRL team that defines creativity in terms of five "habits of mind". These five habits are about being: inquisitive, persistent, collaborative, disciplined and imaginative.

The final decision on whether Pisa will include a creativity assessment – and whether to rank the results – will be taken later in the process.

Pisa has previously invited countries to assess pupils in skills besides maths, reading and science. In 2012, countries could assess pupils in financial literacy.

The latest round of testing in 2015 included assessing pupils’ collaborative problem-solving skills – the results are yet to be published. And in 2018 there will be assessments on global competency.

The financial literacy assessment in 2012 was taken by 29,000 students in 18 countries, not including the UK. Pupils in Shanghai in China had the highest average score in the financial literacy. 

The assessments looked at skills such as understanding variable interest rates and being able to identify ways of covering financial risks, such as through insurance or saving.

Last month, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) thinktank called on ministers to recognise the "increased pressure" on arts subjects due to the EBacc and squeezed funding after it found that GCSE entries for the arts subjects had dropped to their lowest level in a decade.

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