Investigación en educación comparada: el debate sobre las mediciones
Septiembre 30, 2013

Research in Comparative and International Education
ISSN 1745-4999

Other issues available | Journal home page | Publisher home page

Volume 8 Number 3 2013

Archive

CONTENTS [click on author’s name for abstract and full text]

 
SPECIAL ISSUE
The Globalization of Assessment: a forum on international tests of student performance
Guest Editors: LAURA C. ENGEL & JAMES H. WILLIAMS

James H. Williams & Laura C. Engel. Testing to Rank, Testing to Learn, Testing to Improve: an introduction and overview, pages 214‑235 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.214 VIEW FULL TEXT

ARTICLES
William H. Schmidt & Nathan A. Burroughs. Opening the Black Box: prospects for using international large-scale assessments to explore classroom effects, pages 236‑247

Judith Torney-Purta & Jo-Ann Amadeo. International Large-Scale Assessments: challenges in reporting and potentials for secondary analysis, pages 248‑258

David Rutkowski & Leslie Rutkowski. Measuring Socioeconomic Background in PISA: one size might not fit all, pages 259‑278

Rebecca Winthrop & Kate Anderson Simons. Can International Large-Scale Assessments Inform a Global Learning Goal? Insights from the Learning Metrics Task Force, pages 279‑295

Marlaine E. Lockheed & Hans Wagemaker. International Large-Scale Assessments: thermometers, whips or useful policy tools?, pages 296‑306

Keita Takayama, Florian Waldow & Youl-Kwan Sung. Finland Has it All? Examining the Media Accentuation of ‘Finnish Education’ in Australia, Germany and South Korea, pages 307‑325

CASES
Valena White Plisko. Participation in International Large-Scale Assessments from a US Perspective, pages 326‑334

Xavier Bonal & Aina Tarabini. The Role of PISA in Shaping Hegemonic Educational Discourses, Policies and Practices: the case of Spain, pages 335‑341

Susan Seeber & Rainer Lehmann. The Impact of International Large-Scale Assessments on Work-related Educational Monitoring and Policy-making in Germany, pages 342‑348

Demus K. Makuwa & Jan Maarse. The Impact of Large-Scale International Assessments: a case study of how the Ministry of Education in Namibia used SACMEQ assessments to improve learning outcomes, pages 349‑358

Amy Jo Dowd & Lauren Pisani. Two Wheels are Better than One: the importance of capturing the home literacy environment in large-scale assessments of reading, pages 359‑372

Amber Gove, Samir Habib, Benjamin Piper & Wendi Ralaingita. Classroom-up Policy Change: early reading and math assessments at work, pages 373‑386

Rukmini Banerji, Suman Bhattacharjea & Wilima Wadhwa. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), pages 387‑396

BOOK REVIEWS
IEA 1958‑2008: 50 years of experiences and memories (Constantinos Papanastasiou, Tjeerd Plomp & Elena C. Papanastasiou, Eds), reviewed by Oren Pizmony-Levy, pages 397‑402
PISA Under Examination: changing knowledge, changing tests and changing schools
(Miguel A. Pereyra, Hans-Georg Kotthoff & Robert Cowen, Eds), reviewed by Morten Greaves, pages 402‑405
PISA, Power and Policy: the emergence of global educational governance (Heinz-Dieter Meyer & Aaron Benavot, Eds), reviewed by Noel McGinn, pages 405‑408 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.397 VIEW FULL TEXT

APPENDIX TO SPECIAL ISSUE
International Student Assessments and Database Reference Links, pages 409‑414 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.409 VIEW FULL TEXT

Opening the Black Box: prospects for using international large-scale assessments to explore classroom effects

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.236

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In this article, the authors review International Large-Scale Assessment (ILSA)‑based research over the last several decades, with specific attention on cross-national analysis of mean differences between and variation within countries in mathematics education. They discuss the role of sampling design and ‘opportunity to learn’ (OTL) indicators to assess the use of ILSAs in examining educational inequalities such as tracking and explore improvements in ILSAs’ capacity for studying classroom-level differences in instructional content.

 

International Large-Scale Assessments: challenges in reporting and potentials for secondary analysis

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.248

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International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs) have been used to draw comparisons among countries on a variety of topics in education and, more broadly, for example, in adolescent development. These assessments can inform the public about influential factors on the micro and macro levels, foster interdisciplinary and international collaboration, and provide important data for studying the context and processes of education and development. In short, their potential is great. However, there are also challenges, in particular with the validity of using country rankings to estimate educational achievement of students within countries and the unintended consequences of this use. Promising directions for analysis and reporting are identified in this article – including secondary analysis informed by a conceptual framework that focuses on the context and processes of education. Examples of secondary analysis using data from an ILSA in civic education are given.

 

Measuring Socioeconomic Background in PISA: one size might not fit all

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.259

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As part of its flagship educational study – the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has undertaken extensive work to create an internationally relevant composite indicator aimed at measuring socioeconomic background. However, the degree to which a single measure of socioeconomic background is reliable and valid for all participating countries is not widely discussed. To fill this gap, the authors examine the home possessions index, which is a key component of PISA’s socioeconomic indicator, and highlight a number of issues surrounding this index. In particular, they take a psychometric approach to investigating the reliability and some facets of the validity of the home possessions index in a number of participating PISA countries. Their findings suggest that there are notable concerns with the current index, including highly variable reliability by country, poor model-to-data consistency on a number of subscales, and evidence of poor cultural comparability. They couch their discussion in the context of educational and policy research and propose one possible method for improving these measures for participating countries.

 

Can International Large-Scale Assessments Inform a Global Learning Goal? Insights from the Learning Metrics Task Force

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.279

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In recent years, the global community has developed a range of initiatives to inform the post-2015 global development agenda. In the education community, International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs) have an important role to play in advancing a global shift in focus to access plus learning. However, there are a number of other assessment tools that could also inform global progress in education and learning. By viewing ILSAs through the framework set forth by the Learning Metrics Task Force, this article examines the state of these assessments as the Millennium Development Goals are about to expire. It specifically reviews what the task force has learned about the scope for ILSAs to inform global learning. It also poses a series of questions that ask how the assessment of learning can ultimately lead to improvements in the learning outcomes of students.

 

International Large-Scale Assessments: thermometers, whips or useful policy tools?

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.296

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Over the past three decades, the number of developing countries participating in International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs) has increased dramatically, while developing countries’ usage of data from ILSAs for informing educational policy has not been fully realised. In this paper the authors argue that for ILSAs to be useful policy tools, alignment must occur between ILSAs’ measurement quality mission and their capacity development mission. They review the use of ILSAs as both ‘whips’ and ‘thermometers’ and discuss issues in measurement related to the range of skills assessed, their capacity to measure change over time, and the inclusion of other indicators to measure home, classroom and school factors related to student achievement. They then discuss how ILSAs have built assessment capacity in developing countries and what further changes would be needed to improve their utility for policymakers.

 

Finland Has it All? Examining the Media Accentuation of ‘Finnish Education’ in Australia, Germany and South Korea

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.307

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Drawing on the conceptual work of externalisation in comparative education and multi-accentual signs in cultural studies, this article examines how the print news media accentuate ‘Finnish education’ in the process of inserting this external reference into the domestic political discourses around education reform in Australia, Germany and South Korea. The study identifies all articles referencing ‘Finnish education’ that were published from 2000 to 2011 in two widely circulated newspapers with different political orientations in each country. Discourse analysis of the articles shows various ways in which ‘Finnish education’ is accentuated by the newspapers, serving to legitimise different political agendas in education policy debates. It is argued that ‘Finnish education’ has become a ‘projection screen’ for competing conceptions of ‘good education’ and the associated visions of ‘good society’. The authors situate the findings within the ongoing discussion of externalisation, calling for a careful conceptualisation of the role of the media in this line of comparative education scholarship.

 

Participation in International Large-Scale Assessments from a US Perspective

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.326

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International large-scale assessments (ILSAs) play a distinct role in the United States’ decentralized federal education system. Separate from national and state assessments, they offer an external, objective measure for the United States to assess student performance comparatively with other countries and over time. The US engagement in ILSAs derives from both a legal mandate and a history of international collaboration among governments and among researchers. From a US perspective, ILSAs function primarily for benchmarking and related purposes. The assessments in which the United States participates vary in terms of their focus, countries participating, subject-matter coverage, cycles and samples. Each offers unique measures on how well US students are performing relative to their counterparts internationally. The ILSAs serve as a small but significant complement to the US federal government’s investment in its national assessments. Current federal support for state benchmarking to international assessments brings an added dimension to the portfolio of US participation. Additional efforts could also expand the usage of ILSAs and their potential impact.

 

The Role of PISA in Shaping Hegemonic Educational Discourses, Policies and Practices: the case of Spain

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.335

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The aim of this article is to analyse the direct and indirect effects that PISA generates in the orientation of educational policies and reforms in Spain and the ways in which PISA data and results are used in political discourses, at both national and sub-national levels. The main hypothesis of the article is that PISA results have played a key role in shaping Spanish hegemonic educational discourses, policies and practices, setting the framework of what is thinkable and doable in education. To explore this hypothesis, the article identifies two main mechanisms that have become a regular recourse in national educational policy discourse – selectivity and instrumentalisation – providing several examples of their use in recent Spanish education reforms.

 

The Impact of International Large-Scale Assessments on Work-related Educational Monitoring and Policy-making in Germany

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.342

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Germany has relied on its well-established tradition of preparing the workforce through the so-called dual system of practical in-firm training (apprenticeships) and theoretical foundations conveyed by vocational schools. Believing in the high quality of academic school programmes that prepare a small elite for university studies, the German public remained convinced until well into the 1990s that there was little need for innovation and improvement in German education. Although there had been earlier signs of concern, this conviction remained unchanged until the publication of the outcomes of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1996. The ‘TIMSS shock’, reinforced by later studies, has resulted in a host of changes in educational policy, perhaps best characterised by the late Hermann Lange as the ‘turn towards evidence-based educational policy making’. Hallmarks of this trend were the decision by all 16 federal states in Germany to participate regularly in international large-scale assessments (ILSAs), including interstate comparisons (taken in 1997); the decision to define standards of educational performance (corresponding to the federally recognised school leaving certificates); the initiation of academic study programmes intended to foster the development of the required advanced technical skills; and the founding and/or expansion of agencies for quality management (including systems of reports on the state of education, both at the federal and the state levels). In this article, the role of ILSAs (including both IEA and others) in these policy changes are described and examined from a critical perspective.

 

The Impact of Large-Scale International Assessments: a case study of how the Ministry of Education in Namibia used SACMEQ assessments to improve learning outcomes

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.349

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This article highlights the rationale for Namibia’s participation in three studies which were conducted under the auspices of the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) during the period 1995‑2007. The article provides some of the innovative ways in which the results of the first (SACMEQ I, 1995) and second (SACMEQ II, 2000) studies were disseminated throughout the country. It highlights the analysis of reading and mathematics achievement scores of grade 6 learners at three intervals (1995, 2000 and 2007), and explains how the Ministry of Education used the achievement results from the first two studies (1995 and 2000) to mobilise resources for targeted interventions which contributed to improvements in reading and mathematics achievement during the third SACMEQ study in 2007. The article concludes that participation in well-designed international assessment studies that take the local contexts into account can, when well managed, contribute to improvements in learning outcomes.

 

Two Wheels are Better than One: the importance of capturing the home literacy environment in large-scale assessments of reading

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.359

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Children’s reading skill development is influenced by availability of reading materials, reading habits and opportunity to read. Save the Children’s Literacy Boost data have replicated this finding across numerous developing contexts. Meanwhile international large-scale reading assessments do not capture detail on current home literacy. The consistent positive association of reading skills with home-based materials and reading habits and the negative association with chores suggest that in developing contexts, opportunity to read outside the classroom is as important to development of reading skills as opportunity to learn these skills inside the classroom. Without data on home literacy environment, calls for action center only on schools and policies, and thus incompletely address learning and equity. Results of Literacy Boost program evaluations find that participants with reading opportunities outside of schools learned more than non-participating peers. Children from homes without books, without readers and without reading opportunities, as well as struggling girls benefited more from provision of opportunities to read outside the school than did more advantaged peers. With the same teachers, reading instruction quality and limited class time, an enhanced home/community literacy environment generated greater learning. Including indicators of home literacy environment alongside skill assessments, whether large scale or small, can best inform effective support for learning and equity.

 

Classroom-up Policy Change: early reading and math assessments at work

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.373

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This article reviews the development of the Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Assessments (EGRA and EGMA), which are locally tailored, timely assessments designed to directly inform policy and instruction for learning improvement, particularly for countries on the lower end of the income spectrum. The history of the design and implementation of the tools, as well as case studies of their use in Egypt and Kenya, are a useful counterbalance to the experience of the more traditional international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) documented in this special issue – in particular for understanding the needs of countries struggling to transform ‘education for all’ into ‘learning for all’.

 

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2013.8.3.387

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The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a national citizen-led rapid assessment of children’s ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic. ASER is designed and facilitated by the Indian nongovernment organisation Pratham, and has been conducted every year since 2005 by partner organisations in every rural district of India, reaching more than 600,000 children annually. The assessment differs from most other international and national large-scale assessments in several key respects, such as the use of household rather than school-based sampling and the focus on simple tools and indicators that are easy to administer and understand. All ASER metrics, measures and processes are intended to engage ordinary citizens in thinking about and acting to improve basic learning outcomes in India. By conducting a massive national survey each year, ASER has demonstrated that it is possible to use simple, reliable and scientific methods of sampling and assessment on a large scale for high impact at a very low cost. Key to this aspect of ASER has been its ability to mobilise over 25,000 volunteers each year. ASER has been responsible to a large extent for putting the issue of learning on the agenda in India. More recently, the model has been adapted for use in several African and Asian countries. Taken together, these initiatives reached more than a million children in 2012.

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