Its results contribute to redefining policies and appropriate planning for education.
The UAE ranks first among Arab countries in the PISA 2015 assessment.
Jameela Al Muhairi: Close cooperation with educational institutions in the State to consolidate visions and plans to enhance future results in the assessment.
The United Arab Emirates topped the list of Arab countries ranking first place in the PISA assessment in its last edition 2015, in its various fields of mathematics, science and reading, where 15,000 students participated from both government and private schools and from various curricula.
UAE participated in the PISA Assessment for the third time, having participated during the last two editions of 2009-2012. The assessment measures the skills of students, up to the age of 15 years, in science, mathematics and reading every 3 years. It then conveys the evaluation of data resulting from the assessment to decision makers, to benefit from the same in setting policies and making appropriate plans related to the mentioned subjects, in order to perform continuous modifications in the educational methodology related thereto.
Commenting on this, H.E Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, said that the PISA assessment is not connected to any specific curriculum since the nature of the assessment and its purpose aims at evaluating the readiness of students to be effective within the working life, through acquiring many life skills, such as higher thinking and their capability to apply the same within life’s various scenarios to become effectual elements of society.
She mentioned that the assessment holds special importance since it is part of the national agenda, which outlines the future of the State and sets broad outlines for general objectives, one of which is for UAE to be one of the best 20 countries worldwide in the PISA Assessment by 2021.
She stated that UAE’s interest in the last 2015 assessment, where 70 countries participated, was centred on science, unlike 2012 when UAE concentrated on mathematics, pointing out that the process of dealing with the merits of assessment in its different aspects vary at each edition since emphasis is placed on one specific subject. UAE ranked 44th in science, which is exactly the same rank accomplished in the previous edition in 2012, noting that students had achieved better results in some skills related to science during the 2015 edition, compared to the one before.
She added that UAE’s rank in mathematics, specifically in the 2012 edition, was 48 but it had advanced 4 ranks to become 44 in the 2015 edition, pointing out that, according to international statistics, UAE achieved the first place among Arab countries in reading as well.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, students who achieve an expected level or higher possess the basic skills that enable them to accomplish the desired success in the knowledge economy, and H.E Jameela Al Muhairi indicated that about one-third of our students who had participated in the PISA Assessment achieved this level in all three subjects contained within the assessment.
She clarified that 40-49% of students obtained results in the first level or the lower level and this is classified as poor, indicating that when comparing results of both editions in 2012-2015, we will notice an increase in the percentage of students with a “poor” level during the last edition, and at the same time, there is a decline in the percentage of students categorized at an expected level.
Her Excellency stated that female students participating in the assessment maintained their superiority in the last two editions, especially in reading, while the same saw a slight decline during the last edition in favour of male students, noting that the percentage of female students ranked at an expected level reached 34%, while it was 28% for male students. The percentage of female students obtaining one level and lower was 35%, and 49% for male students.
Regarding reading, Her Excellency mentioned that 41% of female students achieved the expected level and above, while the percentage for male students was 25%. As for the first level or lower, the percentage of female students was 30%, with 52% for male students.
Her Excellency stressed that the UAE is determined to achieve the objectives set for attaining an advanced position in the PISA Assessment, pursuant to the State’s 2021 vision, to be among the top 20 countries worldwide. She added that the challenge is great, however, with work, planning and follow-up, we can overcome the obstacles and accomplish acceptable results in line with our aspirations.
She continued: The feedback from the results of the last assessment will be a reliable means that education decision-makers at the Ministry of Education will depend upon to make the required improvements in educational policies and plans, ensuring optimal distribution of resources to achieve the desired goal.
She explained that, in this context, the Ministry of Education has taken various steps to support efforts in this regard that included; unifying the vision and work plans with Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Human Development & Knowledge Authority, in order to achieve the goals of the national agenda; and to place a goal for each authority and another goal for the State in its entirety. The Ministry also prepared and implemented a national campaign for students and parents and those working in the educational field and for the local community. It also set individual goals for each school for the upcoming editions of the PISA Assessment,, issued smart school reports enabling schools to analyse their results in the assessment, in addition to the implementation of a comprehensive training program for all schools in the State. This will improve school performance through utilization of the available data and constant analysis of international assessment results, to benefit from the same in development of the Ministry of Education curricula and examinations, also enhancing them with the assessment skills, in determining students’ weak aspects; and participation of the State in the PISA International Test.
Her Excellency considered the PISA Assessment an important tool in the evaluation of continuous learning, since it focuses on assessing students’ skills in applying knowledge to PISA, hence, the study is deemed a significant indicator for all stages of life.
She stated that the Assessment presents realistic study results. This is an important element since it determines the extent of readiness of high school students to continue their educational journey after graduation, stressing that the assessment has become an important measurement tool and an indicator of performance and methods of improving education in the State, thus, it retains great interest.
The aim of participating in international assessments is to provide decision makers at the Ministry with information on the quality of education in the State to take appropriate development decisions and to set systems and mechanisms to measure capabilities and skills by comparing students’ performance with their peers worldwide in various subjects, as well as to provide curricula makers with information relating to the required modifications and developments in curriculums.
She said that international assessments help in evaluating the knowledge and skills of students and in comparing them internationally with the vast number of participating students from different countries. They also uncover the relationship between the student’s performance and the factors surrounding them, such as school and home environment, and social relations, in addition to measuring changes in students’ performance over time and highlighting the educational policy.