Industry To Tackle Global Assessments


Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco will join forces for a research and development project aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of assessments. According to information released by Intel Tuesday, the three will collaborate in an effort at "transforming global educational assessment and improving learning outcomes."

The three unveiled their plans at the Learning and Technology World Forum in London "to develop new assessment approaches, methods and technologies for measuring the success of 21st-century teaching and learning in classrooms around the world." The effort will be a formal project, headed up by a newly named executive director, Barry McGaw, who is also director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and who has also served as director of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), where he was involved with OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

The project will not focus on just one area of assessments but will cover several "key areas" of assessment methodologies and technologies, developing effective learning environments, and fostering the assessment of 21st century skills in students.

"Shrinking resources and market pressures mean that education can no longer be the sole responsibility of governments," Executive Director McGaw said in a statement released today. "Building the future workforce will require a commitment from the private sector to partner with public institutions. Reforming assessment is essential to enabling any systemic change in education. And change on a global scale is required to equip students of today with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow. PISA's international education assessments focus on key competencies in reading, mathematics and science. In PISA 2003, we took a step by adding an assessment of problem solving, but one limited to analogical reasoning. We hoped to add information and communications technology (ICT) competence in PISA 2006 but did not succeed. We all need now to work together to advance assessment practice."

Andreas Schleicher, Head of Education Indicators and Analysis for OECD, said that technology-based assessments are crucial for the flexibility they allow in measuring education progress on a global scale.

"In the global economy, it is the world's best performing education systems, not simply improvement by national standards, that have become the yardstick for educational success," Schleicher said in a statement released Tuesday. "That is why more and more countries measure the relative strengths and weaknesses of their education systems with OECD's global PISA assessments. To do so effectively, it is crucially important that these assessments continue to evolve to reflect the skills that matter for individuals and economies. Technology-based assessments will be critical to this and the project brings together key partners that can help PISA make this happen."

Similarly, the International Association of the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which administers the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), expressed support for the project and indicated the need for technology in assessments.

"IEA is committed to the greater integration of IT into all its assessments, especially TIMSS and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study," said Seamus Hegarty, IEA chairman. "This reflects the changes in learning environments and the potential of technology to enhance the teaching and learning process. We look forward to working with the collaboration to achieve our common goals for young learners."

A Webcast of the discussion of this topic at the Learning and Technology World Forum can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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