PAGE: Education ministry must clear up Pisa controversy

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PETALING JAYA: The education ministry must clear up the controversy surrounding its Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015 score as its credibility is at stake.

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Nor Azimah Abdul Rahim called on the ministry to explain why it had only succeeded in obtaining a 51% response from schools versus a minimum of 85%.

According to reports, this low level of response had disqualified Malaysia from being ranked in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study.

“In the past two assessments, we were able to achieve responses of over 90%.

“Although the education ministry has attempted to explain what this shortfall entails, it remains unclear as to what it really means.

“To avoid further speculation on the cause of this shortfall, the ministry should clearly describe and explain at length the discrepancy,” Nor Azimah said in a statement today.

This follows last week’s announcement by the ministry that Malaysian students had registered better scores in mathematics, science and reading, according to the latest Pisa results.

However, Malaysia was not included in the Pisa ranking since only 51% of schools had participated, compared with 99.3% and 100% in 2009 and 2015 respectively.

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said it was “highly likely” that Malaysia was excluded from the report after officials overseeing it realised that Malaysia was trying to rig its sample size.

He felt the ministry may have over-sampled the high-performing schools and excluded some of the lower-performing schools from the Pisa 2015 sample to get higher scores.

The ministry has admitted there were weaknesses in conducting the computer-based Pisa.

“This statement requires a detailed explanation. We would like to know what these weaknesses are and what measures will be taken to avoid a similar situation being repeated.

“With 1Bestarinet in place and in full force, for which RM663 million has been approved by the finance ministry, there should be no problems with hardware or connectivity,” said Nor Azimah.

“The students involved in the assessments, their parents and teachers, as well as the public who have a vested interest in the education of the young, too, would like to know why Malaysia did not get ranked.”