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Should we care about international tests?

By ITS Education Asia

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An article from UCL supporting the use of international tests says that governments around the world now agree that international comparisons of educational achievement are something to value. They provide extra data to enhance policy-making and practice. In fact, pupils in more than half of all the countries across the globe take part in international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) such as PISA, and the involvement of the majority of the world’s most advanced economies assures their continued popularity.

Much excitement always accompanies the publication of the international and national reports for the ILSAs because each participating country wants to know where it features in what are essentially global education league tables.

In taking part in ILSAs carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (PISA) and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (TIMSS and PIRLS), countries are acknowledging that knowledge and skills – human capital – are strategic resources that provide the foundations for a nation’s economic performance, and that educational achievement is the key to economic success.

But do the facts and figures really tell us anything?



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