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India prepares hard for global student assessment test — last time it finished in bottom two

A decade after its abysmal performance, India is preparing teachers and students of the participating schools in accordance with PISA test standards.

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New Delhi: India is preparing to appear for an international school student assessment test in 2021, over a decade after it finished 72nd among the 73 nations who participated in the same PISA test in 2009, beating only Kyrgyzstan.

Carried out every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for its members and partner nations, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is meant to assess key knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in mathematics, science and reading.

Sources in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) said the country’s preparations for the 2021 PISA test have already begun, with teachers and students of the participating schools being trained in accordance with the test standards.

A team of PISA officials will also conduct a test trial in the participating schools in 2020, said the sources.

“We have requested the authorities, and question papers for students will be both in Hindi and English for the convenience of Indian students. Teachers and students will also be trained according to the test patterns,” said an HRD ministry official who didn’t wish to be named.

Schools will lay special emphasis on improving students’ mathematics skills. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is preparing course material for this purpose.

“We have seen that mathematics is an area where most students lag behind, which is why we are also working on course material for maths,” said an NCERT official, who did not want to be named.

Nearly 1.75 lakh students from government schools in Chandigarh, 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas and 3,000 Kendriya Vidyalayas will take the three-hour PISA test.

What is PISA test

PISA is a global standardised test to assess reading, mathematics, and science literacy of students aged 15 years — an age when they are usually near the end of their school years.

PISA tests the functional skills that students have acquired in the subjects by this time.

OCED introduced the PISA test in 2000, and has since conducted it every three years.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Finland and Macao have remained the top scorers in PISA test. In 2015, Singapore was the top performing nation in all three disciplines — mathematics, science and reading.

The 2018 results will be out only next month.

India at PISA

India has participated in PISA test only once — in 2009. After an abysmal performance, India stayed away from the test in 2012 and 2015.

In 2016, a committee was formed by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), under the aegis of the HRD Ministry, to assess if India was ready to participate again. The committee recommended India’s participation in the 2018 test cycle, but the deadline was missed by the time things could be finalised.

It was then decided that India will participate in the 2021 cycle. In January this year, the ministry signed a pact with OECD. Students from Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh were tested the last time India participated in PISA.

Also read: New education plan wants to make board exams easier, give more flexibility to pick subjects


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  1. An Indian doctor once told me he learned medicine only after going to UK when he started working in their hospitals.

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