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JET Exchanges 1/2021: How can PISA for Schools be of use to South Africa?

Our first JET Exchanges learning brief focuses on the value of PISA for Schools (PFS) in South Africa

In partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), JET Education Services has been exploring the potential of the PISA for Schools Project and its applications in South Africa. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally-benchmarked assessment which measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. The PISA for Schools project contributes to improving student learning opportunities and well-being by empowering teachers and school leaders through global connections and performance benchmarking based on the PISA scale. 

As a first step, JET and the OECD co-hosted a seminar in November 2020 to discuss the PISA for Schools Project, the PISA-Based Test for Schools and the realities of the South Africa assessment landscape. The seminar brought together a group of assessment and education experts, government and school stakeholders to contribute thoughts on whether and how PISA for Schools could benefit the system, interventions, individual schools and, most critically, the citizens of South Africa. Drawing from the seminar exchanges and subsequent conversations and engagements with available literature, the main discussion point emerging is the fact that the country is over-tested (in certain subjects and at some grade levels) but the resulting data is under-utilised, if used at all. The predominant view is that the country's most pressing priority in the assessment field is to promote and facilitate the analysis of data for purposes of improving teaching and learning. Taking note of this view, Dr. Nick Taylor developed the attached position paper on PISA for Schools in South Africa, which advocates an Assessment for Learning approach and provides recommendations briefly outlining how this task may be commenced.

We invite all stakeholders interested in this project to engage with the concepts and content of the paper, and we welcome any further engagement on this topic. Download the JET Exchanges 1/2021: How can PISA for Schools be of use to South Africa?

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