The website for Program for Internation Students Assessment provides the following overview of what PISA actually is:
In the March 4, 2009 article in Education Week concern for PISA testing and evaluation ability are presented because "questions asked on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) surveys of students' beliefs and attitudes about science reflect an ideological bias, which undermines the test's credibility." I find this interesting that a education system that has repeated suppressed certain ideologies in the spirit of freedom while promoting other ideologies in the name of education is actually offended by the same thing when it is done on an international level. This article leads me to believe there may be a strand of integrity and a hope for an honest pursuit of fairness yet within our system.
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that focus on 15-year-olds' capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies such as learning strategies. PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of mandatory schooling. PISA is organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. Begun in 2000, PISA is administered every 3 years. Each administration includes assessments of all three subjects, but assesses one of the subjects in depth. The most recent administration was in 2006 and focused on science literacy. Results are now available.
PISA 2009 data collection will take place from September to November 2009 and will focus on reading literacy. The PISA 2009 National Report will be released in December 2010. The national contractors for PISA 2009 are Windwalker Corporation, Westat Inc. and Pearson.
One of the examples used in this article to prove PISA political or ideological slant is that the student survey portion of the test "asks test-takers if they agree with certain statements, such as 'having laws that protect the habitats of endangered species.' " This is not a test of knowledge but a test of the students ideological or political views. No facts or statistics are provided in the question. It is just a simple statement concerning the student's position on an issue. It may be appropriate on the government section of the test (which does not exist) but it is certainly NOT a science question.
Maybe America is getting a glimpse of the way other countries test their students and use the educational system to brainwash and control their citizens. Controlling a countries population through education is not a new thing, in fact, historically, whenever a government has engaged in educating their subjects there is a natural tendency to advance the government's agenda. Fortunately in America we have a two party system (with a third party always ready to emerge) to keep a checks-and-balance on the government's propaganda machine. At least Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution in Washington and Sean Cavanagh of Education Week have took note of this trend in PISA.
Other issues mentioned in the article:
- "OECD takes policy positions that it should not be doing if it collects and interprets score data."
- PISA emphasizes student ability to apply knowledge outside of school but does not measure where students gained the knowledge which means it it difficult to evaluate schools with this information.
- "the questions are vague, making it difficult for the scientifically literate to know how to answer."