An Australian researcher who has led efforts to improve the global monitoring of educational standards has been recognised in the King’s Birthday honours list.
Professor Raymond Adams has been made a Member of the Order of Australia for his research into the measurement of educational outcomes and his leadership of national and international studies of student learning.
Professor Raymond Adams, a researcher with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), has made significant strides in global education assessment. He spearheaded the OECD's three-yearly Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from 2000-2012, setting a gold standard for education comparison across 65 countries.
His domestic contributions include advisory roles in Australia's National Assessment Program and the development of new tools for monitoring global progress towards the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for inclusive and equitable education via his leadership of the Global Education Monitoring Centre.
ACER Chief Executive Geoff Masters said ACER is building on the foundation laid by Professor Adams to continue improving these assessment methods and metrics.
“PISA introduced an approach to assessing student learning based not on how well students can recall taught facts and routines, but on how well they can apply their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to everyday problems,” Professor Masters told The Educator.
“PISA also introduced the reporting of students’ performances against described proficiency levels, rather than grading students against year-level expectations. ACER is building on these advances, focusing its assessments on student thinking, deep understanding and ability to apply knowledge.”
Professor Masters said ACER has also developed progressions of learning that describe and illustrate long-term growth in reading and mathematics proficiency.
Shaping future learning
As ACER prepares to implement PISA in over 90 countries in 2025, Professor Masters said advances in the assessment of learning have the potential to influence what educators and students value and prioritise, and to drive changes in school learning systems more broadly.
“PISA has modelled for educators and school systems how information can be gathered about deeper learning of concepts, principles and methods, and how valid and reliable assessments can be made of difficult-to-assess capabilities such as complex problem solving and creative thinking,” he said.
“ACER is studying how some countries are reforming their national assessment programs, national curricula and processes for preparing and supporting teachers to promote these broader intentions for student learning.”
Professor Masters noted that under Professor Adams’ leadership, ACER has worked with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to construct progressions of reading and mathematics growth.
“We then used national, regional and international assessment programs to establish where students are on these progressions, thus enabling global comparisons of students’ proficiency levels,” he said.
“In contrast to assessment programs that do not provide information about long-term growth, this approach encourages educators to recognise learning as cumulative and ongoing, and provides a better basis for evaluating the impact of educational programs and initiatives and for measuring the value that educational institutions add.”