Tests and diagnostics to measure excellence in mathematics and the sciences
Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 7:20-8:20 p.m.
Middle school is a very “measured” stage in Israel: the national MEITZAV test and the international TIMSS and PISA examinations had been portraying a comprehensive picture of the Israeli system for years. Using diverse methods and administered in different points along the middle school years, these tests presented a mirror. The image was of low, though moderately increasing achievements and very large gaps between high and low achievers, aligned with ethnic and socio-economic divisions.
System tests are therefore very important. They are conducted once every few years with a segment of students taking the test. The results are aggregated into streams, regions, districts and schools, and they are reported to the public after a relatively long time. Their publication typically evokes intense discourse in the media, which creates a dynamic of criticism and a push for improvement.
System tests measure the system; they were not designed to serve as a working tool for teachers and students. They are administered to only a sample of students, they do not provide feedback in real time for the individual student and are not taken into consideration as to determine the future learning path of a particular student. For these purposes other countries use readiness tests and diagnostics tools.
In recent months, following a decision to cancel the MEITZAV tests and to offer alternatives, a planning and development process has commenced. The COVID-19 crisis caused a delay in these efforts, as well as in those that relate to the ministry’s chief superintendent tests which schools use in order to place students into study tracks and ability groups.
Questions for deliberation
- How can a diagnostic tool aligned with the PISA framework be incorporated? Should it become a mandatory test, or a voluntarily tool?
- Is there a need in schools for an individual readiness (knowledge and skills) tool at the end of ninth grade?
- What is the role for philanthropy in the area of measurement and assessment? What is recommended for the Trump Foundation?
Background material for the discussion