Educators in the US are increasingly facing the challenge of preparing their students not just for life after school but also for success in an economy that is increasingly global in nature. This means that comparing results at the local or country level is no longer enough, teachers must have access to international standards to truly understand how their schools are performing at the global level. This is by no means an easy feat, which is why the OECD has designed PISA and the OECD Test for Schools.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international organisation that focuses on developing international standards to help solve complex global problems such as educational, economic or environmental issues. Their PISA program is run every three years and uses expertly designed examinations to help create an international benchmark for student performance in reading, mathematics and science.
The OECD test for schools builds on this foundation and allows schools to run a voluntary test every year to help compare their 15-year old students against this international benchmark and provide an in depth report on their performance in the three key areas of assessment. This report can then be used to make better decisions about where educators need to focus their efforts to help improve student learning outcomes and student experience at school.
How does the OECD Test for Schools work?
The OECD Test for Schools is a voluntary examination for 15-year olds that schools can sign up to run on an annual basis. The test is split into two parts:
- 2-Hour Cognitive Test: This test uses real-life scenarios to benchmark student capabilities in reading, mathematics and science, and assess their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
- 30-minute Interpersonal Questionnaire: This questionnaire focuses on providing more context to student results, asking them to provide information on their home life, school experience and attitudes to learning.
What are the advantages of the OECD Test for Schools over school-specific examinations?
The OECD Test for Schools offers a number of distinct advantages over school-specific examinations:
- It allows schools to compare the performance of their students at a country and global level. No other test provides international standards that allows schools to measure their performance not just against schools within the country but schools all around the world. This is vital for competing on the global stage and building learning environments that are conducive to keeping up with the rapidly evolving economy.
- It provides expertly designed, standardised and fair assessments every year for benchmarking. Test authoring is a science and difficult to get right, particularly if you are looking to provide fair and accurate comparisons every year at an international level. The OECD Test for Schools is designed to make this simple by taking care of the test creation and analysis on behalf of schools.
- It offers insight beyond the assessment into key areas that might affect student performance. Through the post-assessment questionnaire, students are given the opportunity to provide context to their results by offering insight into their home, school and learning experiences. This can then be used by educators to better understand the factors that might lead to over or underperformance in their cohorts.