The Bhutan PISA-D National Report was launched yesterday. The report was on the performance of 15-year-old students in Reading, Mathematics and Scientific Literacy.
Some of the major findings of the report are that the students performed slightly better in Reading and Scientific Literacy in comparison to Mathematical Literacy and while girls outperformed boys in Reading Literacy, boys performed better in Mathematical Literacy, and both boys and girls performed almost at par in Scientific Literacy.
While the report shows that students performed better in items requiring lower cognitive skills, however, there is a significant gap in performance in more demanding tasks. “Bhutan has a significantly higher average percentage of correct answers than the average of all PISA-D countries in all three domains”.
However, the findings also demonstrate that the students have relatively broader knowledge and understanding compared to other PISA-D countries and that the students performed at par with top PISA-D countries but significantly below OECD average and of the best education systems in Asia.
“PISA test is appropriate to measure the performance of our students against established international benchmarks, in the domains of Reading, Mathematics and Science”.
Due to late registration in PISA-D, there were issues like time constraint and limited technical capacity in conducting an international large scale assessment. “For that, Bhutan had to cover-up the technical capacity building workshops that other PISA-D countries availed for 2 years through OECD,” said the director general of the department of school education. “This demanded a lot of effort from our officials requiring them to go through the documents of PISA and PISA-D to meet the technical standards as specified by the ETS and OECD”.
“One of the repercussions of the late registration was that Bhutan could not administer the field trial test which other PISA-D countries administered in 2016”.
However, despite all the challenges, he said Bhutan could successfully complete the project on time and it fulfilled the objective in finding out its education standard in comparison to the other PISA-D countries.
The report recommends the respective education bodies to strengthen and enhance competency-based activities and assessment in curriculum, teachers’ knowledge and skills in competency-based teaching and learning and skills in developing competency-based items.
It says that the assessment should prioritize on the depth rather than the breadth of learning to avoid superficial learning, incomplete understanding of core concepts and limited ability to transfer and apply knowledge to unfamiliar contexts.
“Ministry of Education should strengthen the monitoring of quality instructions through the existing school self-assessment tool and school improvement plan,” the report recommends.
PISA for Development (PISA-D) is a one-off programme with the aim to encourage and facilitate PISA participation by interested and motivated low and middle-income countries. It also contributes to the monitoring and achievement of the Education Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), which emphasizes the quality and equity of learning outcomes for children, young people, and adults.
PISA-D Assessment Framework is built on the PISA Assessment Framework with few additional features for assessment, that are specifically targeted on lower levels of performance and contextual questionnaires that better reflect the situation of 15-year-olds in middle- and low-income countries.
“Bhutan has always aspired to participate in international assessments to understand its quality of education,” said the education minister Lyonpo J.B Rai. Despite the actual registration year for the participation on PISA-D was 2015 and the fee being €600,000, OECD agreed upon €50,000 for Bhutan’s participation as it registered only in 2017.
The main objectives of Bhutan’s participation were to set a benchmark (baseline) profile of the knowledge, skills, and competencies of the 15-year-old students across the three domains, collect evidence about the readiness of the Bhutanese education system for entry into the main PISA in 2021; and to build local and institutional capacity in terms of the standards and structures to implement large scale educational assessments.