OECD’s "Baby PISA" Early Learning Assessment
Some Say More Information Is Needed.
OECD’s Study on Young Children
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international assessment, provided through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. Data from the PISA test reveals that children who have attended high quality early learning programs tend to score higher at reading at age 15, are better prepared for school and tend to perform higher academically.
To better understand the relationship between early childhood education and the long-term development and well-being of children, OECD has initiated the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS) that would provide countries participating in the study with a common framework and comparable empirical information through which best practices could be shared, therefore encouraging cooperation among nations to work together to improve early learning outcomes and overall well-being for young children.
OECD details the methodology of the study which will sample 3,000 children, ages 5 to 5.5, in at least 200 settings per country with up to 15 children per setting. Four early learning domains will be assessed: Emerging literacy skills, emerging numeracy skills, self-regulation, and social & emotional skills. Children’s skills will be evaluated through direct and indirect assessment methods.
Learn more about OECD’s International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study, IELS page.
“Baby PISA”: A Cause for Concern?
Although comparative research to understand the relationship of child development and learning is important, global concern has been raised about the IELS which has been essentially described as a “Baby PISA”. The greatest concern from early childhood scholars and practitioners is how the standardized assessment of young children across countries will account for cultural and historical contexts. Another concern raised is OECD’s lack of consultation with the global early childhood community. Many in this community are calling for more information on how “Baby PISA” will be delivered, especially the direct assessment of children.
An OECD spokesperson stated that: “The new OECD study on Early Learning and Child Well-being will help participating countries to support all children get a strong start early in their lives. The study will help countries to see what is working well and where improvements could be made, including the experiences and outcomes of other participating countries." However, will the OECD step forward with plans to engage with the wider early childhood community to better explain this test? The early childhood community will need more information about this new initiative as concerns and criticisms are mounting and increasingly being voiced by early childhood educators and researchers.
For more information about perspectives on the IELS, read Dr. Alan Pence’s Call and Commentary entitled “Baby PISA: Dangers that Can Arise When Foundations Shift." Dr. Pence is a Professor of Early Childhood Education, Care and Development at the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada.
ACEI recently hosted an informational meeting about the IELS, facilitated by Dr. Pence, on 22 April, during the 2017 Institute of the Center for Education Diplomacy.
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Continue to visit OECD’s IELS website.