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Ten MCPS High Schools to Participate in International Assessment Program

March 11, 2014
OECD Test for Schools to provide valuable information about teaching and learning

Ten high schools in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) have volunteered to pilot a new program that will provide information about how these schools are preparing students to succeed in a global economy.

The schools will participate in the OECD Test for Schools, which is given to a random sample of 15-year-old students and assesses math, reading and science, as well as deeper learning and problem-solving skills. It also features a survey that reveals important insights about student engagement, school culture, and climate.

The OECD Test for Schools is based on the internationally recognized Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an exam that is taken by students in more than 70 countries. The PISA is coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The results of the OECD Test for Schools will allow the participating schools to benchmark themselves against international expectations. Most importantly, it will provide valuable information about where these schools are doing well and where there is room for improvement. 

“I have always believed that assessments are an important part of education
if they provide you with data you can use to improve teaching and learning and better serve students,” said Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. “These tests are well-constructed and reliable, and assess the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills that are so important for success in the future.”

Creative problem solving skills are one of the three core competencies identified in the MCPS Strategic Planning Framework—
Building Our Future Together: Students, Staff, and Community.

The 10 participating MCPS schools are Damascus, Northwest, Thomas S. Wootton, James Hubert Blake, Winston Churchill, Walter Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Col. Zadok Magruder, Rockville, and Walt Whitman high schools. About 75 students from each school will be selected randomly to participate in the three-hour test April 1-3. Hundreds of high schools around the nation are participating in the OECD Test for Schools, including many in the Washington, D.C., area. 

Only school-level results will be provided and individual student results will not be shared. The schools will receive a detailed report that will provide information about their performance, benchmarked against the performance of other participating schools and international expectations. The report will also provide detailed information about student attitudes toward learning, including engagement and academic confidence. 

“This is not another high-stakes test nor is this an effort to create an international scoreboard of student achievement,” Dr. Starr said. “However, if we are serious about preparing our students to compete globally, we must use reliable tools that provide meaningful data about how well we are serving the needs of our students.”

The OECD Test for Schools is administered in the United States by America Achieves. For more information,
please visit their website.

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