ERIC Number: EJ1048016
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Our Global Mirror: Comparing Student Achievement and Teacher Practice around the World
Lyons, Douglas; Niblock, Andrew W.
Independent School, v73 n3 Spr 2014
Independent schools are, for the most part, exempt from mandatory participation in standardized tests designed for state and federal comparisons, nor are they required to take part in comparative international assessments. The anxiety in the broader culture, however, is driving a growing interest among independent school parents (and prospective parents) for just such data. To a degree, independent schools have been willing to oblige because independent school students compare favorably to their public school counterparts in standardized tests. For instance, norm-referenced tests such as The Stanford, Metropolitan, and California achievement tests (SAT, MAT, and CAT), as well as the Educational Records Bureau's achievement tests and both the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), are used in independent schools because they offer parents and teachers valuable information about the performance of their students individually and as a class. Additionally, the tests provide data that enable schools to benchmark their school scores against a variety of comparison groups: a national sample (all test takers); a state or regional sample; a socioeconomic status sample (drawn from the scores of students who reside in high socioeconomic communities); and a sample composed entirely of scores earned by independent school students. Yet, when it comes to international comparisons, currently there are no such tests that break down by individual student scores. Given the pressing concern over the perceived failure of American schools to compete internationally, this is surprising. The broad scale international tests--TIMSS (includes 60 participating countries), Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRLS), and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)--offer score results by state, province, and country. PISA has recently begun providing school scores. But none reveals individual scores. For independent schools that participate in these international comparisons, the inability to break down results by individuals limits the tests' value. Fortunately, though largely unknown to most educators, a vast and growing inventory of released items and test-design specification manuals from international tests is accessible on the Internet. These resources enable educators to do something of greater value: construct replica tests (using actual questions from the original tests) and generate a variety of reports using selected comparison groups. In other words, there are ways for independent schools to determine how well their students stand up to both their public school and international counterparts. And independent schools can use this information to leverage the clear value added of an independent school education. This article discusses the availability of exam makers' previously used exam questions to assist educators in designing benchmarks tools in their own schools and accessing TIMSS data to create and administer local TIMSS tests. Further, it describes how independent schools can also learn a great deal from their counterparts in other nations by exploring the results of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study, sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The study was of eighth-grade mathematics and science teaching in seven countries: Australia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States. The study involved videotaping and analyzing teaching practices in more than 1,000 classrooms, thus offering a wealth of comparative teaching practices.
Descriptors: Global Approach, Comparative Analysis, Comparative Education, Educational Practices, Academic Achievement, Private Schools, Comparative Testing, Achievement Tests, Standardized Tests, Norm Referenced Tests, Mathematics Tests, Protocol Materials, Test Items, Item Banks, Testing, Elementary Secondary Education
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site: http://www.nais.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills; Iowa Tests of Basic Skills; Metropolitan Achievement Tests; National Assessment of Educational Progress; Program for International Student Assessment; Progress in International Reading Literacy Study; California Achievement Tests; Stanford Achievement Tests; Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study