Jamaican students to participate in OECD survey

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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HUNDREDS of Jamaican students for the first time will participate in the 2021 sitting of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

The programme, which is not curriculum-based, is organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a method of comparing and examining students' performance in mathematics, reading and scientific literacy.

Addressing a JIS 'Think Tank' yesterday, national mathematics coordinator and a member of the PISA management team in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr Tamika Benjamin, said that the aim of the programme is to evaluate education systems in an effort to provide comparable data on participating countries, and enable them to improve their educational policies and student outcomes.

“It is a triennial survey that targets 15- to 16-year-old students, and is designed to assess the extent to which these students, who are near the end of their secondary education, have developed the skills and the competences they will need to function in a global environment,” Dr Benjamin explained.

Eighty-eight countries are expected to participate in the 2021 sitting, moving up from 80 in 2015, with Jamaica being the only English-speaking Caribbean country that will participate in 2021.

Dr Benjamin pointed out that the assessment for 2021 will be comprised of cognitive items and a suite of survey questionnaires, which in essence will give a 360-degree view of the education system. Principals of participating schools and parents will also be required to complete a questionnaire.

Meanwhile, national project manager for PISA, Marjorianna Clarke, said that before students are given the assessment, there is a process of items review that has to be done online. During this review, the items go through a process of adaptation.

Clarke explained that this adaptation process is to make sure the students are not exposed to items that are not culturally relevant.

The PISA may be administered using pen and paper or using a computer-based approach. Jamaica has opted to pursue the computer-based assessment; therefore, all the necessary infrastructure will be in place to facilitate this approach.

A field study, which will include areas such as administrative activities and logistics, will be undertaken in 2020, and according to Clarke, this will be used to pilot the items that the students are going to be exposed to in 2021.

In 2021, approximately 45 students will be randomly selected using an online method to complete the assessment from each participating school.

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