Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PISA Under Examination: Gerry Mac Ruairc's Keynote Speech

Gerry Mac Ruairc gave a keynote speech at the symposium entitled, "Ticking the Boxes: A Critical Examination of the Process of PISA Testing from a Student Perspective."

Here are the notes from the speech:

  • technologies of power surveillance
  • impacts of testing: high-stakes and low-stakes
Unintended consequences of policy developments:
  • what are they?
  • need to watch them
  • no one sets out to damage, but unintended consequences do that
  • alliances: neo-liberal, neo-conservative, neo-Middle class
  • accountability
  • measurement
Policy of testing in Ireland
  • began in 2008 with 7/8 year olds and 11/12 year olds
  • results not centrally collated - within schools
  • reviewed during Whole School Inspection
  • must report scores to parents
  • vertical system of testing
  • 15 year olds and 18 year olds subject to more standardized testing
  • small schools
  • 8 schools have less than 50 students, 291 schools had greater than 500 students, and 238 students had 300-499 students.
  • voluntary secondary schools in Ireland: privately owned, charge fees but publicly funded, Catholic or the Church of Ireland
  • community and comprehensive schools
  • vocational schools with a working class profile
General trends:
  • commitment to knowledge economy
  • commitment to education
Ireland in PISA:
  • above average in math and science
  • 5th or 6th place in reading
PISA 2006 Ireland:
  • 165 schools randomly selected
  • mix from different schools, e.g. secondary, vocational
  • 4585 students
  • 5 different grades (Irish 1-5)
  • high level of agreement to participate
  • Reading Literacy Level 1 or below: 12.2% (OECD average: 20.1%)
  • Science Literacy Level 1 or below: 15.3%
Socio-economic groups and testing:
  • language and linguistic discontinuity
  • choice of language use intended or unintended?
  • social class achievement in PISA: working class - lower achievement, middle class - higher achievement
  • curriculum vs. culture
  • multiple-choice answers - linguistic choices of the working class
Research on PISA 2009 - "PISA girls"
  • disadvantaged, inner-city girls
  • "opportunistic" sampling
  • didn't know what the test was looking for
  • Principal talked about the timing and the intensity of the process
  • school PISA coordinator talked of "students wilting," "too intense" process, "what monster is this feeding," "rat in a lab" scenario
  • ticking the boxes just to "get rid of it"
  • girls' view - upset by answering questionnaires about lifestyle
  • impact on engagement - interested at first, but then just ticking boxes
  • issues of confidentiality - names of booklets
  • didn't try as hard because of not getting results back
  • the need for calculators - five grade levels in the room. Students were too embarrassed to ask for calculators
  • personal nature of items on questionnaires: too "nosy," felt swayed by the socio-economic nature of questions
  • negative sense of self: not willing to write about their parents' professions, some lied, bias of jobs listed for parents - not "normal" jobs in a deprived area
  • need to engage with student perspectives on the testing process
  • need to dig deeper an enrich our understanding of socio-economic level
  • need to consider the impact of socio-economic status

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