EXCLUSIVE: New Pisa teamwork test will be game-changer, Schleicher predicts

This is an edited version of an article in the 1 January edition of TES. To read the full article, subscribe to TES

The man behind the hugely influential Pisa global education rankings is predicting a big shift in the way its results viewed, when the next set are published in 2016.

Andreas Schleicher told TES he expected the 70 participating governments to pay close attention to Pisa’s (Programme International Student Assessment) first ever test of pupil teamwork.

“If students are good at maths, if they are good at reading, we take it for granted that they are also a good problem-solver and a good collaborator,” Mr Schleicher, the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) education director said. “But maybe that’s not going to be true.”

Education ministers around the world are going to find out through the results of a new Pisa test in “collaborative problem-solving” which will be published in December alongside the usual triennial Pisa assessments.

Under the new test, 15-year-olds who took part in Pisa last year were given computer-based tasks in which they worked through a “chat” function with computer-generated virtual collaborators to solve a problem.

The measurement focuses primarily on the way a pupil engages with others, rather than solely on the correct solution. “It’s the first time countries are going to have the evidence and it’s going to be interesting and important,” Mr Schleicher said.

“If we find some countries are very good in solving problems but not good at collaborating, I think [governments] are going to pay attention because it is going to matter.”

He said that while the headline maths, reading and science scores would continue to be significant, employers were looking for a wider set of skills, including teamwork and communication.

“In our economy and in our society, social skills play an ever-increasing role and we know very little about how the school system is preparing students for them,” Mr Schleicher added.

“Even innovation is no longer about having a great idea and doing it. It’s about being able to connect the dots with other people – people who might think differently from you.”

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