PISA is Changing

Yesterday EdSurge published this really useful article about how PISA is adapting their international assessments to outline skills that will be needed in the 21st Century. Here’s a quick overview:


First administered in the 2000 to assess the quality of education systems across the world, the PISA(short for ‘Programme for International Student Assessment’) is currently undergoing significant changes.


The test is given to 15-year-olds every three years and originally assessed maths, reading and science. However, the latest iteration in 2015, has branched out to cover collaborative problem solving, social skills, and psychological well-being.


The changes started before the 2012 exam, after the OECD recognised that traditional multiple choice evaluations were not sufficient to prepare students for a 21st century economy. But how to create an alternative with standard but meaningful measures for nearly 80 countries? And how to decide what should be measured?


Andreas Schleicher, Directorate of Education and Skills at the OECD, says:

“We look very carefully at how the world and the skills that people need are changing and then we try to reflect that in our measure.”


Collaborative problem solving (CPS) has been outlined by Schleicher as a crucial skill that is important for our success in society.


After a pilot in 2012, the PISA test included a mandatory CPS section in 2015, which all students took alongside with math, reading and science.


Twig are moving to the PISA drumbeat. Our successful SIP pilot in Malaysia encouraged students and teachers to develop CPS and other higher order thinking skills as seen in the new PISA assessments, and this deeper thinking has also been incorporated in Reach Out PD for Secondary (watch this space). As ever, we want to promote learning in a real-world context, and supporting the development of required skills that are needed in industry today is part of that process.

Apple For Education

There have been some interesting articles documenting the future of Apple’s rise in Education.


EdTech consultants 9ine published this blog post about Apple’s new features on its iOS platform, supporting iPads, iPhones and iPods. The update contains the following tools for education:


The introduction of Shared iPads will accommodate schools that are unable to operate a one iPad per pupil ratio. Students will have their own ID number and be able to log in to any iPad to see their stored documents, books or apps.


A classroom app has also been introduced, allowing the teacher to control the devices for guided learning (much like Smart Amp or ClassFlow), overview what their students are doing, or lock devices into a particular app to prevent unwanted browsing.


Finally, the new Apple School Manager will allow the IT department greater autonomy of settings, enrolment and required apps without the previously cumbersome time commitment.


Find out more at Mac Rumours and iMore.

A Fair Education

The Fair Education Alliance is a coalition of organisations from education, charities and business. Together, the Alliance is working to tackle educational inequality, building a fairer education for all by 2022.


This week the Alliance launched their report card, and it got me thinking.


Although the numbers of students that claim Free School Meals (FSM) or are eligible to claim pupil premium is a crude measure of deprivation in England it does reveal some uncomfortable truths:


Missing talent:

You may argue that students from deprived backgrounds are less able than their wealthier peers. Not true. This is the most depressing statistic of all:


15% of highly able pupils who score in the top 10% nationally at age 11 fail to achieve in the top 25% at GCSE. Analysis shows that boys from deprived backgrounds are the most likely to to be missing.


One in ten of the poor but clever pupils are barely achieving C grades (or doing much worse). They are lagging behind their non-FSM peers by almost a whole GCSE grade per subject.


Scotland is no different:

The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy found an attainment gap of 14–17 per cent for reading, 21 per cent for writing, and 12-28 per cent for numeracy from primary through to secondary school.


Even though overall leaver attainment increased slightly for all groups, the gap between children from the most and least deprived background remained the same. There appears to be an average of 300 points difference in the average tariff score between the most and least deprived groups at the end of compulsory schooling.


Using the 2009 PISA survey, research found that the brightest boys from poor homes in Scotland are almost three years behind those from the richest homes in reading. Scotland’s attainment gap in reading for boys was the highest in the developed world, comparatively worse than that in emerging economies like Chile, Turkey and Mexico.


Wales is worse:

The attainment of Welsh children eligible for FSM is lower than in all but six of the 152 local authority areas in England. This is unacceptable and means that too many poor children in Wales are being let down by the existing schools system. Change is urgently needed.


My question is this:

What can we do to help? Either individually, by school, company, or as a solution offered to governments?

Please email your views to Mark Ellis mellis@twig-world.com

Twigging on to Educational Excellence

The Bangkok Post has published an article on Twig’s successful SIP pilot in Malaysia and our increased usage in Thailand.


Tawan Theva-Aksorn, CEO of Aksorn Group, said that Aksorn’s alliance with Twig is just part of its attempt to transform the traditional, silent Thai classroom into a ‘classroom of the 21st century’, one that nurtures and instills in its students the virtues of creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.


Anthony Bouchier, founder and CEO of Twig World agreed on the need for this. ‘If you look around the world, the best teaching practice is one of organised chaos! You allow students moments of activity and noise, but you also need to be able to sit them down and engage their attention and curiosity. That’s what technology brings them, which is the whole world into their classroom.’


Just last year, Twig saw great success in Malaysia with their STEM Improvement Programme, using Twig’s short films and classroom resources to help students with their understanding of science and higher-order thinking skills (“HOTS”!)


To determine Twig’s effectiveness, the students on the Programme were tested in PISA-style tests against peer groups who had not completed the Programme. The scores of students using Twig’s STEM Programme were not only higher than those of their peers, but they showed a marked improvement. 87% of the students in the Programme reported a better understanding of the concepts being taught, and all 100% of the teachers reported improvement in their understanding of both the PISA exam and their science teaching. Twig is now available in over 70 countries, and used in over 100,000 schools around the world.


Read the full article at the Bangkok Post.


Pictured: Tawan Theva-Aksorn, CEO of Aksorn Group with Anthony Bouchier, CEO of Twig World Ltd.