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16.4: International testing

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    Testing in the Canadian provinces

    Canada has developed a system of testing in the provinces as well as national testing. Each province undertakes its own curriculum based assessments. At the elementary school level provinces assess reading and writing (language arts) as well as mathematics (also called numeracy).

    In the middle grades science and social studies is often assessed in addition to language arts and mathematics. Summary results of these tests are published but there are no specific consequences for poor performance for schools. In addition, these tests are not high stakes for students. At the secondary school level, high stakes curriculum based exit tests are common.

    Canada has developed pan-Canada assessment in mathematics, reading and writing, and science that are administered to a random sample of schools across the country. These assessments are intended to determine whether, on average, students across Canada reach similar levels of performance at about the same age. They are not intended to provide individual feedback to students are similar in purpose to the NAEP tests administered in the United States.

    International comparisons

    Along with the increasing globalization has come an interest with international comparisons in educational achievement and practices. In 2015 approximately 540,000 15-year old’s in schools from participating countries took the Program for International Assessment (PISA). (OECD, 2016)

    PISA has assessed 15-year-olds in reading, mathematical and science literacy triennially since 2000. The items on both series of tests include multiple choice, short answer and constructed response formats and are translated into more than 30 languages.

    Key Findings from PISA in Science

    The United States remains in the middle of the rankings

    Among the 35 countries in the OECD, the United States performed around average in science, the major domain of this assessment cycle. Its performance was also around average in reading, but below average in mathematics. There has been no significant change in science and reading performance since the last time they were the major domains (science in 2006 and reading in 2009).

    One in five (20%) of 15-year-old students in the United States are low performers, not reaching the PISA baseline Level 2 of science proficiency. This proportion is similar to the OECD average of 21%, but more than twice as high as the proportion of low performers in Estonia, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), Singapore and Viet Nam.

    At the other end of the performance scale, 9% of students in the United States are top performers, achieving Level 5 or 6, comparable to the average of 8% across the OECD. By contrast, over 15% of 15-year-old students in Japan, Singapore and Chinese Taipei achieve this level of performance.

    Students in the United States display high levels of epistemic beliefs, or those beliefs that correspond with currently accepted representations of the goal of scientific inquiry and the nature of scientific claims. Over nine in ten 15-yearolds in the United States agree that ideas in science sometimes change, that good answers are based on evidence from many different experiments and that it is good to try experiments more than once to be sure of one’s findings. (OECD, 2016

    16.4: International testing is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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