Using International Assessments to Achieve Your Education Goals

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Saturday April 7, 2018

09:00 - 17:00

United Arab Emirates

Ras al-Khaimah

Ben Durbin and Juliet Sizmur from NFER’s Centre for International Education delivered a half day workshop on the use of international assessment data at the eighth biannual symposium of the Gulf Comparative Education Society (GCES). The theme of the conference, which took place from 7 – 9 April in the UAE, is Public, Private, and Philanthropy: Exploring the Impact of New Actors on Education in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Education is recognised across the GCC as a moral imperative and a strategic priority to secure future prosperity and human flourishing. Policymakers have set ambitious targets to join the ranks of the best performing education systems in the world in order to deliver economic success and secure a place on the world stage for their citizens.

International Large Scale Assessments play an important role in these developments. The GCC nations have demonstrated their commitment to measuring progress against international standards and to play an active role in the global education community by gathering and sharing data that can be used to inform future improvement.

Coordinated by the IEA and OECD, but delivered separately in each country, studies such as TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA focus on students’ achievement in reading, mathematics, and science, but they are increasingly branching out into other outcome measures as well. These studies also gather a rich array of additional data on students, schools, and the home environment.

Despite the high profile of the international studies, among the education and academic communities they remain an under-utilized resource. Headline findings such as countries’ international rankings and the practices of the highest performing countries, receive significant but often superficial attention. The greatest value from the studies remains untapped: the opportunity to conduct in-depth analysis of particular education topics and to draw more sophisticated lessons from a wider range of countries.

The NFER workshop on 7 April provided the opportunity to learn more about international large scale assessments, how they are designed and delivered, and what they have to say about education in the Gulf. Most importantly, the workshop will explore how our insights from these studies can help to support your role – as a policymaker, school administrator, or academic.

For more on our TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA studies visit NFER’s International section.