Abu Dhabi pupils prepare for Pisa 2018

21,000 teens to sit for mock exam Tuesday

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Nearly 21,000 pupils will sit for a two-hour mock examination on Tuesday as part of the Department of Education and Knowledge’s 100-day plan to prepare them for Pisa.

Pisa, or the Programme for International Student Assessment, is the international examination designed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development that is issued every three years to measure 15-year-old pupils’ proficiency in maths, reading and science. The UAE’s National Agenda calls for the Emirates to rank among the Top 20 highest performing countries in Pisa.

But in the Pisa 2015, pupils in Abu Dhabi scored 423 in science, 413 in maths and 419 in reading, which was well below the OECD averages of 493 in science, 490 maths and 493 in reading. The scores for pupils in Abu Dhabi were also lower than the UAE as a whole, which earned 437 in science, 427 in maths and 434 in reading.

Every public and private school pupil who was born in 2002 and lives in the capital region will sit for the mock-Pisa exam, which was developed by Adek, Dr Qasim Alshannag, the department’s division manager of the assessment, told an audience of principals Monday at the Private Schools Annual Forum.


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“The idea is to diagnose the students’ level and based on that we are going to offer learning resources for the students, for the schools, to help them be familiar with the international assessment framework and all of these things,” said Dr Alshannag.

“We are going to send each school a student report as well as a school report comparing them to other schools and the international averages. We will highlight for each student the areas that teachers need to work on.”

Schools where pupils performed well in the 2015 assessment will be asked to participate in workshops to share their best practices. A second mock exam will be issued to pupils on February 8.

Dr Alshannag said that, if necessary, Adek will “make significant changes in teaching and learning inside the classroom” to ensure pupils do well on the assessment.

“Then we expect in April 2018, our students will be ready for the main Pisa,” he said.

One top educator at a private school in Abu Dhabi said this is the first time in her career that she has had to issue a mock-Pisa exam to pupils.

“The best way to do it is, if a school system is doing well in teaching students, the students will do well (in Pisa). But if they don’t, then there is something wrong with the system, and adding this as a part of the curriculum is not appropriate,” the official said. “It’s teaching to the test and that philosophically is – I’m diametrically opposed to that.”