PISA Results For Icelandic Schools Raise Questions

PISA Results For Icelandic Schools Raise Questions

Published June 27, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Natsha Nandabhiwat

The results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test from Icelandic schools should not be oversimplified, an education official cautions.

The results demonstrate widely varying results in Iceland’s primary schools. While Borgarskóli came out on top, Vísir reports, about half the students of Fellaskóli did not score high enough to meet the basic knowledge requirements for a 15-year-old, the age of students who are given the PISA test.

Hildur Björk Svavarsdóttir, the head of the Statistics and Research Department for the Education Division of the City of Reykjavík, told Vísir that there are numerous factors to consider when looking at these results, which may have little or nothing to do with the actual aptitude of the students.

Hildur points out, for example, that about 67% of the students at Fellaskóli are of foreign origin, while the PISA test is given in Icelandic. In addition, the schools that came out the lowest in the final results have a comparatively small number of students, so that one student doing poorly can skew the results greatly.

Furthermore, Hildur told reporters that in post-test interviews with students, a great number of them said they were aware that this test would not count against their grades in school or have any effect on whether or not they would graduate. Many of these students decided to simply complete the test as fast as possible, without putting much thought and consideration into their answers.

The PISA test is given to 15-year-old students in OECD countries every three years. The purpose of the testing is to “designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society.”

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