International iPIPS Research Evaluates Children’s Success — not Countries’
On October 28, the HSE Institute of Education seminar discussed international comparative research project – iPIPS (The International Performance Indicators in Primary Schools). It examines child development on enrolling in school and during their first year of studies. The research was carried out in the UK, and HSE Institute of Education specialists adapted it – and for the first time carried it out in Russia.
International comparative research into the quality of education always raises heightened interest – and not only from within the professional community, but also from the state. Countries compete for higher rankings in PISA, TIMMS and PIRLS – research that rates child success at various ages in reading, mathematics, and natural sciences. The research unveiled at the Institute of Education seminar intended to evaluate individual progress made by first years. As Isak Froumin, Academic Supervisor at the Institute of Education, said, the research focuses on what happens to children during their education in school.
Since this research is carried out in various different countries, the people in the pictures are depicted generically – so as not to indicate gender or race.
iPIPS is an international research project that focuses on child development from their enrollment in school and through the first year of their studies. It was launched about 20 years ago in the UK, at Durham University (one of the country’s top 5 universities in several fields). Unlike in sport, for example, where the faster an athlete runs 100 meters the greater the progress, in education it is difficult to measure progress, since any one child may learn at one pace today – and another tomorrow. However, the British academics succeeded in developing a form of measurement that today has been taken up by other countries. The Russian team, led by the HSE’s Director of the Center of Education Quality Monitoring Elena Kardanova, were not only able to ‘localize’ it for Russia, but also developed it further.
How are children evaluated?
As Professor Peter Tymms from Durham University (where he leads the iPIPS project) and Dr Christine Merrell, Director of Research, Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), said, during their research they evaluate reading ability, short term memory, physical development, behavioral characteristics and other features that influence a child’s success in their future lives. For example, one key characteristic is attention span – if a child is able to focus for 15 minutes, he will go on to perform better at reading and maths. Each child only needs to be assessed twice – at the start of the academic year and at the end, for the trends to be visible.
One of the examples given in the English version of the research (below – instructions for the interviewer)
The actual survey of the child (via computer) and observation of them, is carried out in such a way that not only do they not get tired, they also enjoy it – their mistakes are not focused on, and the problems they’re set are interesting, i.e. involving ice-cream. Simple exercises are used to evaluate their coordination e.g. lying down and standing up without using their hands or arms.
‘Added value in education matters to us,’ said Peter Tymms. ‘A school’s quality is not only indicated in the results its students receive, but in the individual progress that they achieve thanks to the teaching. This is where it differs from PISA, which is not capable of evaluating the education system’s performance. After all, we don’t know the initial levels of the children who complete PISA tests.’
HSE’s Director of the Center of Education Quality Monitoring Elena Kardanova said that the researchers looked to iPIPS in particular because it enables individual assessment of a particular child, and because the child perceives the process as a game. Nothing like this has been tried in Russia before, usually research compares countries’ performance, identifying trends in the development of education. While iPIPS is a high quality tool developed in accordance with the latest advances in testing and is recognized world over.
Before starting to assess children, the researchers developed new tasks that suit Russian children of those ages (in Britain, children go to school two years earlier), and since the research is international, some tasks were kept so they are the same in all countries.
Based on this information, it is possible to make amendments to the educational process, factoring in individual study paths, and evaluating each student’s individual progress.
Director of the Center of Education Quality Monitoring
The iPIPS pilot project in Russia was implemented last year in Novgorod region: 300 first year pupils from different schools were assessed in October, at the start of the academic year, and in April-May. In addition to the tasks set the children, the research included questionnaires for their parents and teachers, developed in conjunction with the University of Durham. MA students from the HSE’s Educational and Psychological Measurement course, offered by the Institute of Education, carried out the surveys. The children surveyed last year received pre-school education ahead of the introduction of new educational standards, and going forward it will be interesting to understand to what extent children who come to school straight from kindergartens where that new standard is in place differ from those surveyed this year. Today, the research is being scaled up. This fall, it is being carried out in three regions, and in spring 2015, the same children will be assessed again – to judge their progress. Information about schools, teachers, teachers’ teaching methods, contextual information about their families, about how active they are in school life is also collected.
Going forward, there are plans to use iPIPS in Russia to analyze education systems and factors that influence children’s progress, the effectiveness of pre-school education, different teaching methods etc. Another important aspect are recommendations to teachers, school psychologists and directors about the best approach to take to particular children, based on the results of these individual tests.
‘Based on this information, it will be possible to improve the learning process, building individual learning pathways and evaluating progress made by each pupil individually,’ Elena Kardanova said.
Boris Startsev, for HSE News Service
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