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PISA 2015 Trends: Did changing the Test mode and Scale Model influence PISA Data Interpretation?

6. December 2016

Challenge when estimating trends in educational studies

International educational studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) help participating countries assess educational standards of their own school systems. PISA assesses the target population (15-year-old students) every three years. Trend information gained from the international assessment finding is of especial importance for the target population, because it informs the countries if educational levels have changed throughout the PISA cycles. In order to ensure valid trend interpretation, PISA assessments have to be carried out as closely as possible to previous conditions. The same standards are equally valid for the applied statistical procedures. PISA 2015 was the first time that computer testing was used, previously paper pencil tests were the standard mode. The scaling model was changed and new types of tasks were used in science. Based on PISA tests from 2000 to 2015, an article published in Diagnostica (Verlag Hogrefe) considers the question on how changes in the testing mode and the scaling model influence the interpretation of trend estimations. Findings suggest that the switch to virtual testing could have biased the trend estimation for Germany.