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Learning Assessments

The Education Policy and Data Center (EPDC) has updated its database of International, and regional, learning assessments in the subjects of reading, mathematics, and science. These assessments help ascertain the extent to which students are gaining fundamental skills needed to succeed in the middle and upper grades of basic and secondary education.

EPDC collects learning outcomes data, to make it more easily accessible for researchers and policymakers. The new assessments that EPDC has extracted include: the 2016 round of Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the 2015 round of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the 2015 round of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the 2014 round of Programme d’Analyse des Systemes Educatifs de la Confemen (PASEC), and the Third Regional Assessment of the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (TERCE), which was administered in 2014.

The following sections briefly describe each assessment and show some results. Links to EPDC learning assessment pages, which include detailed descriptions of each assessments’ established benchmarks, are available here: link.

PIRLS: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study

The PIRLS reading assessment, which is carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is an assessment of reading comprehension skills that has been conducted every five years since 2001. In most countries, PIRLS is administered in school to children in the 4th grade of formal school. In a small number of countries, it may be administered at a different grade. PIRLS results can be used for national level diagnostics and to draw international comparisons.

PIRLS scores are scaled to have an international average value of 500 and a standard deviation of 100 points. This means that 68% of scores can be expected to fall within 100 points of 500, and 95% of scores can be expected to fall within 200 points of 500. Reading ability level benchmarks established by PIRLS offer some understanding of the ability levels associated with different score levels.

TIMSS:Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

The TIMSS math and science assessments have been carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) every four years since 1995. The EPDC database only includes results for TIMSS math. In most countries, TIMSS is administered in school to children in the 4th and 8th grades of formal school. In a small number of countries, it may be administered at different grade levels. TIMSS results can be used for national level diagnostics and to draw international comparisons.

TIMSS scores are scaled to have an international average value of 500 and a standard deviation of 100 points. This means that 68% of scores can be expected to fall within 100 points of 500, and 95% of scores can be expected to fall within 200 points of 500. Reading ability level benchmarks established by TIMSS offer some understanding of the ability levels associated with different score levels.

PISA:Programme for International Student Assessment

The Programme for International Assessment (PISA) is an assessment administered to 15-year-old students across the world to measure knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics, and science. In 2015, 72 countries participated in the assessment and approximately 540,000 students.
PISA scores are comparable across countries. For reading and mathematics the overall scales were set based on the mean for the OECD countries that took part in the first PISA assessment scaled to 500 score points, with the standard deviation equal to 100 points.

PASEC: Programme d’Analyse des Systemes Educatifs de la Confemen

The Analysis Programme of the CONFEMEN Education Systems (PASEC) has been administered in 13 countries in Francophone West Africa. PASEC is designed to assess student abilities in mathematics and reading French. The program is managed by CONFEMEN (La Conférence des Ministres de l’Education des pays ayant le français en partage) and has been in place since 1993. The assessment is administered in different years in different countries. PASEC is typically administered to students in 2nd and 5th grades at the beginning and end of the same school year, and is designed to measure students’ growth over the course of that year. Assessment results are intended for use primarily as a diagnostic tool.

TERCE: The Third Regional Comparative Study

The Third Regional Comparative Study is the third learning schievement study in primary education conducted by LLECE, a network of national education quality assessment directors across Latin America and the Caribbean. There are a total of 15 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Uruguay, and the Mexican state of Nuevo León. The final sample of TERCE includes a total of 3,065 schools acorss the 15 countries, and a total of 195,752 students in third grade and 95,000 in sixth grade. The mean of the score was fixed at 700 points, with a standard deviation of 100 points.

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