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Ong: Did ministry try to rig results for Pisa 2015 report?

 | December 8, 2016

DAP's Ong Kian Ming says highly likely that Pisa authorities recognised education ministry's attempt to rig sample size in order to artificially boost its scores.

Ong-Kian-MingPETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s results in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015 may have been rigged by the education ministry, says a DAP lawmaker.

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming made the claim following the omission of Malaysia from the final ranking and assessment report released by the Pisa authorities on Tuesday.

He was referring to deputy education director-general Amin Senin’s remarks on the same day, pertaining to the improvement by Malaysian students based on the results achieved in the Pisa 2015 survey.

“No doubt, ministers, deputy ministers and politicians from the Barisan Nasional (BN) will use the latest Pisa scores as ‘proof’ that Malaysia is on the ‘right track’ when it comes to the standard of education in the country.

“What they would have conveniently left out is the fact that Malaysia does not feature anywhere in the 2015 Pisa rankings for Mathematics, Reading and Science,” Ong said.

On Tuesday, Amin announced that Malaysia’s Pisa scores for Mathematics, Reading and Science had improved from 421, 398 and 420, respectively, in 2012 to 446, 431 and 443, respectively, in 2015.

“The survey showed that Malaysia was moving towards hitting the global average score of 490 in mathematics and 493 in reading and science.

“We are on average, 50 marks from the global average in each domain. I am very pleased with the results and wish to congratulate all teachers, principals and students. Their commitment is commendable,” Amin was quoted as saying by The Star.


However, these statistics (seen in the graphic above) are not available anywhere in the official report released by the Pisa 2015 authorities in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and is purely based on the education ministry’s own submission to the OECD.

The official reason stated in the Pisa report for Malaysia’s exclusion is: “In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD. However, the weighted response rate among the initially sampled Malaysian schools (51%) falls well short of the standard PISA response rate of 85%.

“Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years.”

Ong questioned the ministry on why only 51% of the schools initially chosen for the Pisa test in previous years, had participated in the test in 2015.

“Was it because the education ministry wanted to over-represent students from better performing schools and leave out students from low performing schools?

“This 51% participation rate raises many suspicions since Malaysia’s participation rate was 99.3% and 100% in PISA 2009 (151 out of 152 schools participated) and Pisa 2012 respectively,” Ong said.

He also doubted that school principals would have prevented their students from participating in the Pisa 2015 test, unless the ministry had decided not to choose the particular school again despite it being part of the original sample.

“I suspect the education ministry had over-sampled high performing schools in the Pisa 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools,” Ong said, implying it was to raise the scores in the 2015 report.

He gave the example of one state, Negeri Sembilan, where the 14 schools listed as the Pisa 2015 sample schools comprised secondary-level high performing schools (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi), and Fully Residential Schools (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh).

“The average student from these two types of schools will clearly outperform an average student from a regular secondary school.”

Ong added that the biased sample of schools in favour of high performing schools can also been seen in Pisa 2015’s own data on Malaysia.

“Out of a total sample of 8861 students, 2661 or 30% were from fully residential schools. This is clearly an over sampling of students from fully residential schools since they comprise less than 3% of the 15-year-old cohort in 2015,” he said, adding that it is highly likely that Pisa authorities recognise the education ministry’s attempt to rig the sample size in order to artificially boost its scores.

Ong called for the ministry to explain this distortion of the results and the exclusion of Malaysia from the Pisa 2015 report.

“Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid should explain so that we are not fooled into thinking that all is well and good in our education system as ‘evidenced’ by the latest Pisa scores.”


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