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Supporting countries new to large-scale assessment

Ursula Schwantner describes how ACER is supporting first-time PISA participants to develop assessment capacity.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been engaged by the OECD to provide additional support to the new countries participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for the 2021 cycle.

Known as PISA 2021 Core E – Country Preparation and Implementation Support, the project aims to assist countries with the successful preparation and implementation of PISA during all stages of the assessment, from planning and contextualisation to implementation, analysis and reporting.

So far, five countries have enlisted to receive support from ACER through Core E: El Salvador, India (Chandigarh), Mongolia, Panama and Uzbekistan. Each Core E country completes a Capacity Needs Analysis and a subsequent Capacity Building Plan and Project Implementation Plan.

The Capacity Needs Analysis identifies capacity assets and needs in relation to both the successful implementation of PISA 2021 and to the country’s assessment system more broadly, including assessment policies, the structure of the assessment system, and other current and future assessments within this system.

Several indicators define the capacity assets and needs assessment. These indicators related to three dimensions:

  • The enabling environment focuses on the context of large-scale assessments in the country at the system level. This dimension addresses more general aspects of the assessment system, such as policies and regulations, institutional arrangements, and funding.
  • At the organizational level, the focus is on capacity assets and needs to implement large-scale assessments at the national level. Organizational aspects of managing, designing, implementing and analysing data from large-scale assessments are covered, with a focus on the implementation of PISA.
  • At the individual level, the focus is on the key roles and responsibilities and the knowledge, skills and experience required to successfully complete the diverse PISA tasks.

The indicators assessed in the Capacity Needs Analysis serve as a foundation for the Capacity Building Plan and for subsequent monitoring and evaluation of capacity development. Like the Capacity Needs Analysis, the Capacity Building Plan addresses the capacity development priorities required to successfully implement PISA 2021 as well as capacity development priorities of the country’s wider assessment system. The plan will cover a four-year period from mid-2019 to early 2023, and will be developed in agreement with the Core E country, ACER and the OECD.

The Project Implementation Plans for each country are developed based on the PISA 2021 implementation schedule with its specific milestones and tasks. The plan will be tailored to the country-specific context, and the assessment options chosen (such as computer-based assessment). Another important component of the project plan is to support countries in developing national quality assurance systems to ensure the PISA Technical Standards are met.

For the remainder of 2019 through to 2023, ACER is supporting each country to implement its Capacity Building Plan and the activities associated with the PISA 2021 Field Trial and Main Survey, including the national quality assurance systems. ACER works directly with countries, providing technical support and consultation, and conceptualises peer learning activities, workshops and training sessions. ■

RD

About the author

Ursula Schwantner is a Senior Research Fellow in ACER’s Education Policy and Practice research program.

More [rd] articles by Ursula Schwantner

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