“We are on the verge of big changes in assessment”, says new report by education experts;

Top performing countries have hit a ‘performance ceiling’according to a new report released today.
Dubai, UAE, 24 December 2014: ‘Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment’, published today by the world’s largest learning company Pearson,and written by Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Sir Michael Barber and renowned assessment expert, Dr Peter Hill, says that new technologies will transform assessment and testing in education.

According to the authors:
       Adaptive testing (for example, tests that evolve in real time on screen) will help generate more accurate tests and reduce the amount of time schools spend on testing
       Smarter, automated marking of exams will help improve accuracy and reduce the time teachers spend marking “rote” answers
       Technology will help combine student performance across multiple papers and subjects.
       Assessment will provide on-going feedback, which, will helppersonalise teaching and improve learning.
       New digital technologies will minimise opportunities for cheating in exams or “gaming the system”.
The report argues that current assessment methods are no longer working, so that even the top performing education systems in the world, have hit a performance ceiling.
It concludes that governments, schools and those within them need to prepare themselves for this assessment renaissance.
Pearson expects governments and educators in the Arab world to take interest in the report, given the region’s willingness to embrace new technologies to drive improved outcomes for learners.
MrKarimDaoud, Managing Director of Pearson in the Middle East said:
“This region has been one of the fastest in the world to embrace new digital innovations in the education field and ensure that these innovations are used to promote a student’s uptake of skills and knowledge.
Government agencies, in their pursuit of realising the goals set out in their countries’ national visions, have looked to the latest thinking and developments in education to help build robust, knowledge-driven economies and societies.
This report demonstrates how technology can be harnessed to meet these goals by optimising the assessment process. It also provides a Framework for Action, showing the region’s educators and policy makers how student performance can be more accurately and meaningfully assessed and how tracking student outcomes can be done more efficiently and precisely”.
Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson and co-author of the report said:
“We are about to see big changes in the possibilities of assessment as a result of technology. Current assessment systems around the world are deeply wedded to traditional testing and exams and, some might argue, are holding us back from potential reforms. We should seize the opportunity and not cling to the past.
“By using technology smartly, better assessment could improve teachers’ teaching, by giving them richer data. The biggest change created by the forthcoming assessment renaissance could be a vast improvement in teaching and therefore a big improvement in learner outcomes.”
Dr Peter Hill, assessment expert and co-author of the report said:
“This renaissance will bring about a ‘rebirth’ of the core purposes of assessment that will lead to a much better alignment with the curriculum and with teaching and learning.
“Assessment is only one aspect of education but it is often one of the most influential and controversial and we believe that the transformation we want to see across education will be held up unless we release the power of assessment to bring about improvements in learning.”
Notes to Editors:
1.     Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. www.pearson.com
2.     Sir Michael Barber joined Pearson in September 2011 as Chief Education Advisor, leading Pearson’s worldwide programme of efficacy and research. He plays a particular role in Pearson’s strategy for education in the developing world, and is Chairman of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter and the University of Wales.
He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001-2005) and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards (from 1997-2001). Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; Deliverology 101; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution and The Making of the 1944 Education Act.
3.     Dr Peter Hill has held senior positions in education in Australia, the USA and Hong Kong, including as Chief Executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board, Chief General Manager of the Department of School Education in Victoria, Australia, Professor of Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne, Director of Research and Development at the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington DC, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority and Chief Executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

He is currently a consultant advising on system reform in the areas of curriculum, assessment and certification. He has published numerous research articles and co-authored with Michael Fullan and Carmel Crévola the award-winning book, Breakthrough, published by Corwin Press.

Pearson to develop PISA 2018 Student Assessment 21st Century Frameworks for OECD.

Dubai, UAE, 15 December 2014: Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announces that it has won a competitive tender by the Organisationfor Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)to develop the Frameworksfor PISA 2018.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)is widely recognized as the benchmark for evaluating education systems worldwide by assessing the skills and knowledge 15-year-old students will need in their further academic education or for joining the workforce. 
PISA is administered every three years inaround 70 participating economies world-wide. Representative national samples of 15-year-olds from these countries took the PISA 2012 test totaling about 510 000 students and representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally. Similar, if not higher, numbers are expected for PISA 2015 and PISA 2018. From 2015 onward most students will take PISA by computer.
The frameworksdefinewhat will be measured in PISA 2018, how this will be reported and which approach will be chosen for the development of tests and questionnaires.  The main tasks will be to:
·        Redefine reading literacy, taking into account how young people are taught to approach the digital environment including how to recognise credible websites and online documents.
·        Review and where necessary adapt the frameworks for mathematics and science.
·        Develop the student questionnaire framework for the collection of contextual information and the measurement of other education outcomes which may have connections with performance
·        Develop a framework for the measurement of global competence which will assess students’ awareness of the interconnected global world we live and work in and their ability to deal effectively with the resulting demands.
Pearson’s chief executive John Fallon said:
“High quality education is vital to a nation’s economic development and social well-being – and PISA is a key tool by which nations can measure their own educational progress and learn from each other.
“We are developing global benchmarks that, by assessing a wider range of skills, willhelp more young people toprosper in the global economy.  We are very pleased to be supporting the OECD and academic colleagues in this crucial work.”
Head of the PISA programme at the OECD Andreas Schleicher said:
“PISA 2018 has the potential to be the start of a new phase of our international assessments. We can now make much smarter use of technology in how we test young people, and we need global competence as governments around the world seek to equip young people with the skills they need for life and employment.”
Notes to editors
1.      The OECD’s PISA test (www.pisa.oecd.org) is widely recognized as the benchmark for measuring the improvement of education systems worldwide. Between 65 and 74 countries/economies participated in previous cycles of PISA which is run every three years, since 2000.  Representative samples of students are selected at age 15 in each country in order to provide consistency across borders and regions.
The Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (www.oecd.org) exist to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
2.      Pearson (www.pearson.com) is the world’s leading learning company, providing educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services to teachers and students of all ages.  From pre-school to higher education and professional education, our curriculum materials, digital learning tools and testing programmes help to educate more than 100 million people worldwide. In addition Pearson provides consultancy services to governments to help them improve their educational systems.
Together with the OECD, Pearson has formed international panels of experts in reading, math’s  and science,global competenceand survey design to define and understand what students should be equipped with towards the end of compulsory education in order to deal with the world of work and further education in the 21st century. Pearson had also been granted the framework development for next year’s PISA 2015 for which they elaborated a new interactive approach to understanding and working with science and addressed students’ abilities and strategies to work collaboratively on solving problems.

3.      For further information, please contact: Pippa Vaux, Director of Media Relations, Pearson pippa.vaux@pearson.com. 

Pearson Commits to Improving English Language Learning Outcomes in Arab World.

Uptake of English language and national economic prosperity linked
Dubai, UAE, 17 April 2014:An English language expert from Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, says English language instruction in the Arab world should be measurably improving the learning outcomes of English language students in the region.

Dr John de Jong, Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Standards and Quality and Chair in Language Testing at Amsterdam’s VU University, says that Pearson is publically committed to ensuring all its products and services have a positive impact on advancing the educational results of those that use them. Dr de Jong says that this ‘Efficacy Commitment’ is particularly important for Pearson’s English language portfolio, which is used by millions of learners around the world.
“At present, there are approximately two billion people around the globe who are learning English – that means it is incredibly important that English language products and services are effective in making a real difference to the lives of those that use them. The portion of those two billion people who are using Pearson products and services can be assured that their products and services are being reviewed against rigorous, objective efficacy standards. For example, a recent efficacy review of Pearson’s English language learning programmes has led to more sophisticated data and learning analytics being employed in these programmes, driving far greater personalisation – and ultimately leading to enhanced learning outcomes for those using the programmes”.
Dr de Jong was in Dubai recently presenting at the Global Education Forum. He used the opportunity to illustrate the new Global Scale of English (GSE), a Pearson initiative that fits with the company’s commitment to demonstrably improving learning outcomes. The GSE and the associated measurement instrument, Progress, allow for a more detailed, personalised assessment of an English learners’ level of ability, helping educators to more accurately target their learners’ specific learning needs and areas for improvement. The GSE has been designed to give a more precise portrayal of a learner’s level and progress than other systems that are currently available. Dr de Jong says the aim is to encourage the profiling of learners, rather than classifying them by level.
“Maximising the uptake of English language skills is becoming increasingly important, particularly in countries like the UAE, where school leavers and graduates with strong English abilities are more likely to succeed in the world of work.  It is undoubtedly true that in today’s world being able to use English will open up the world to an individual, helping them (amongst other things) perform well in international business communications”.
Dr de Jong also says that a country’s success in the world economy largely depends on whether that country can improve the overall level of English amongst its student population.
“Those Arab countries that have the fastest growing economies and where international trade and commerce are having the greatest positive effects on the lives of citizens are where English language is being taught effectively throughout all levels of the education system. There is a clear relationship between how many people in a country speak English and how fast that country is moving ahead in economic terms. This is evident in the UAE where people have remarkably high levels of English. The country has decided that it wants to be open to the world but understands that in order to do so a significant percentage of the population must be able to speak the language of the world – English. What Pearson wants to do is help ensure the English learning that is taking place is as effective as possible and is having the greatest possible impact on improving the lives of learners. Pearson is realising this goal by placing greater emphasis on definition of learning outcomes in the English education field – making it easier to measure the impact of the learning taking place and powering data-driven decision making”.
About Pearson:
Pearson is the world’s largest learning company, operating in more than 80 countries around the world, bringing powerful learning solutions to millions of learners every year. Pearson takes learning personally. Our courses and resources are available in print, online and through multi-lingual packages, helping people learn whatever, wherever and however they choose. Our education imprints combine 150 years of experience and include online support for every learner.  Our innovative and dynamic digital learning products and services are changing the learning landscape all around the globe and our qualifications are positively transforming the futures of learners of all ages and backgrounds.  Pearson can boast a comprehensive English Language offering that consists of engaging content and cutting edge testing solutions. To find out more, visit www.pearson.com

Value of Vocational Education Underestimated in the Arab World

Regional education initiatives need to better correspond with labour market demands
Amman, Jordan, Dubai, UAE, 3 September 2013: The 7th Arab Human Resources Management and Training Conference was held in Amman this week under the Patronage of Jordan’s Minister of Public Sector Development, Dr Khlaif Al Khawaldeh. The Conference brought together global experts in education and training to discuss the readiness of the region’s labour force for the future of work in the Arab world.

Conference participants debated how to create a future, regional workforce that will meet the demands of 21st century employers and add value to the region’s economies. 
Ramiz Haddadin, Pearson’s Senior Business Development Manager in the Middle East, who represented Pearson at the Conference, said vocational education will be critical to building advanced economies in the Arab World, and needs to become a priority for regional governments looking to create high performance, global workforces. Mr Haddadin says that the value of vocational education has been traditionally overlooked by Arab students and their parents.
“Vocational training has often been seen as a lesser alternative to an academic education. Many people believe that vocational courses will lead to jobs that have lower wages and poorer conditions than their academic counterparts. Traditionally, a vocational qualification will not be considered as prestigious as a qualification from a university. However, this is actually no longer the case, as vocational qualifications are now recognised by prestigious international employers and learning institutions, and can lead to increasingly well paid positions with excellent prospects for career advancement”.
Employers in the Arab world have also called for more vocationally trained graduates, as the region faces a skills crisis in many industries, including the engineering, construction and hospitality sectors of the economy. A 2010 International Labor Organisation (ILO) report found that many private organisations in the region often had difficulty recruiting employees with the skills necessary for business expansion or the adoption of new technologies. Pearson’s discussions with regional business leaders have shown many fear there are not enough workers from vocational backgrounds to fill the increasing number of positions being created by Arab governments’ efforts to build highly developed, diversified economies.
However, while regional employers call for more skilled workers, rates of youth unemployment and workplace participation in the region are some of the worst in the world. Youth unemployment, which is as high as 30 per cent in some Arab countries, is costing the region between US$40 and US$50 billion a year. With the youth population in the Arab World set to magnify over the coming decade, this is an alarming predicament for regional decision makers, who understand the deadline they face in reversing this trend.  
Job creation and education seem to be the two most obvious solutions to the region’s unemployment figures. However, education levels in the region have grown dramatically in recent years, with many countries in the region able to boast universal primary enrolment and literacy rates approaching 100 per cent. In addition, job creation has also been on the rise in many Arab countries.
The problem is that young people are choosing education paths that do not necessarily lead to employment. More and more students from across the Arab World are now completing their secondary and tertiary education, yet their prospects for employment have not improved. University graduates now face a reality where there is an oversupply of tertiary educated job seekers in the labour market. Young Arabs are not choosing education pathways that give them the skills or knowledge demanded by employers in the sectors most in need of skilled labour. This can be in part attributed to many Arab students’ pursuance of education pathways that lead to careers in the public service, highly sort after because of the generous remuneration packages and conditions they offer.
Mr Haddadin believes that increased opportunities for young Arabs to pursue a vocational education will have the two-fold effect of decreasing the region’s youth unemployment rate and reducing the skills gap. However he acknowledges that vocational education is by no means a panacea for the complex educational challenges facing the region, but part of a much wider solution. He also points out that vocational education will only have a positive impact on employment statistics if the vocational programmes offered meet stringent independent standards. He says:
“Vocational programmes should be internationally recognised and accredited against global quality standards. Vocational programmes should also be developed in close consultation with industry so that course content is an accurate reflection of the types of skills and knowledge demanded by employers”.
Lack of access to quality vocational programmes is a problem experienced by students and employers beyond the Arab region, and is a challenge for educators and policy makers around the world. A 2011 review of the United Kingdom’s vocational system, known as the Wolf Report, found the standard of vocational and technical training in the country was inadequate for a modern economy. Michael Gove, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Education said in the Report that this was “a special tragedy, because we know that encouraging genuine, high-quality, vocational education can guarantee access to further and higher education and rewarding employment”.

Mr Haddadin agrees: “The burgeoning youth population of the Arab World is a great economic opportunity for the region. If we can equip our young people with the right education there is no stopping what they will be able to achieve. By providing our youth with a learning path that will lead to a rewarding and secure career we are not only helping individuals, we are helping guarantee the long-term economic and social prosperity of the wider region”. 

Pearson offers new qualification to minimise impact on local learners.

Pearson-Edexcel Respond to UK’s A Level Changes with New Qualification
London, UK, Dubai, UAE, 29th May, 2013: Edexcel, part of the world’s leading education company, Pearson, has announced a new qualification which will help minimise any disruption experienced by schools and students in the Gulf region as a result of the UK Government and Ofqual’s A Level changes.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove has introduced sweeping reforms to A Level courses and exams which lead to the General Certificate of Education. The systemic changes will change the way many A Level students in the GCC undertake their exams, says Mark Andrews, Pearson’s Regional Director of the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Under the changes, the January examination series has been removed, offering reduced re-sit opportunities. Modular assessment, a key feature of A Levels, is being replaced by linear assessment, where examinations will need to be taken at the end of the course.
However, the launch of Pearson’s new Edexcel International Advanced Level qualification will allow schools in the Gulf region to carry on offering both January and June exams, and to continue to offer a modular assessment structure in all the major A Level subjects, except for English.
A Levels,the most common gateway into UK universities and other higher education institutions, are the courses undertaken by students in the final two years of their secondary education, both in the UK, and in many other countries. The qualifications are recognised by universities around the world, making A Levels a popular choice for students in the Gulf region who want an internationally recognised qualification that is valued by universities in both the GCC, the UK and beyond.
Pearson currently offers its Edexcel GCE A Levels in schools throughout the GCC region. A significant number of these schools and their students have voiced concerns over the Secretary of State for Education’sreforms and what the changes will mean for their results.  Pearson is responding by developinga new suite of International Advanced Level qualifications for international customers that closely resembles the structure and format of Edexcel GCE A Levels.
Mr Andrews says that the Pearson Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications are a positive alternative for schools who do not want to introduce the compulsory changes to the GCE A Levels. The quality and substance of the old and new programmes are almost identical, but the new qualification allows schools to continue to offer modular assessment, as well as June and January exams. He says:
“The new qualifications will allow students to continue to sit modular exams twice a year, and to undertake assessments at the end of each of their units. The subject content of the InternationalAdvanced Levels is closely matched to that of the current Edexcel GCE A Level courses, allowing schools to teach the new qualificationsusing their existing resources and reducing the stress usually involved in introducing new qualifications.
“Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications have been written to the same rigorous standards as Edexcel GCE A levels, ensuring the qualifications are of the highest quality.”
Pearson has consulted the Russell Group, an advisory group of leading UK universities,during the development of the new International Advanced Levels to ensure they are written to the standard required for entry to universities in the UK and overseas.  Studentsachieving a Pearson Edexcel International Advanced Level will have a qualification that is recognised as a suitable alternative to the current Edexcel GCE A level and therefore valued by higher education institutions around the world.
Mr Andrews was keen to stress that schools currently offering the Pearson Edexcel GCE A Level can continue to do so, and Pearson will work closely with them to ensure the effects of the compulsory changes are kept to a minimum. Schools have the opportunity to offer both the Pearson Edexcel GCE A Level and the Pearson Edexcel International Advanced Level qualification if they wish.
Mr Andrews says: “It’s a question of maximising our partners’ choices.  We want our centres here to know that they can continue to offer the Pearson Edexcel GCE A Levels, and that Pearson is committed to helping them adjust to the linear exam system and the removal of theJanuary examination series. We are communicating with schools regularly and meeting withprincipals, to help them through this transitional periodand to support them in making a decision regarding which qualifications would work best for their school and students”.
The new International Advanced Level qualifications are available from September 2013. For more information on subject specifications, please visit: www.edexcel.com/ial

Quality Innovative Learning Solutions Critical to Future Workforce Success.

TAGIUNI and Pearson sign Partnership Agreement to provide students with the latest in learning technology
DUBAI, UAE, 29th September, 2012: Economies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are one step closer to achieving their goal of enhancing the competitiveness and productivity of their workforces, with a major new agreement signed between global education powerhouse, Pearson and the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University (TAGIUNI).

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties that was signed this week will see internationally respected qualifications become accessible to a wide range of students all over the world. It is hoped the agreement will lead to an increased number of highly skilled professionals becoming available to local employers, and assist governments in the GCC to deliver on their promises of building increasingly knowledge-based economies.
Under the agreement, the world’s largest education company, Pearson, will provide the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University (TAGIUNI) – Democratizing World-Class Education – with programmes from its internationally acclaimed suite of Edexcel qualifications, some of which will be delivered online through the University’s state of the art e-learning system. All short courses offered by TAG-Org, its franchised and partner companies and affiliated entities, will also be accredited to receive Edexcel Assured Status – a global mark of quality assurance.  Edexcel is part of the Pearson family and is the United Kingdom’s largest provider of professional qualifications, including the renowned BTEC programmes.
Partnering with Pearson was an obvious choice for TAGIUNI, given Pearson’s proven record of providing leading educational solutions to institutions all over the Middle East. The company works closely with governments and education providers in more than 65 countries to supply dynamic and engaging learning products and services from prep level, right through to post graduate degrees.
By partnering with a company of Pearson’s magnitude, TAGIUNI will have access to a global network of educational experts that are also experienced in tailoring educational tools to meet the needs of learners in this region.
Mr Mark Andrews, Regional Director of Edexcel for the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean said: “The beauty of the Edexcel qualifications we are providing for TAGIUNI is that they have been developed to give learners not only the knowledge, but also skills and behaviours that are valuable in the workplace. These qualifications are well known for making learners highly employable. They can also be adapted and contextualised to meet the learning needs of students in this part of the world, giving them a very engaging and motivating learning experience, and setting them up for success in whatever career they pursue”.
Both Pearson and TAGIUNI believe that online education solutions are central to providing rapidly emerging economies with the skills and knowledge-base necessary to compete in a competitive global environment.
Mr Salah M. Abu Osbeh, TAGIUNI’s Executive Director of Professional Partnerships and Continuous Education said: “Online education is increasingly gaining ground on conventional education…according to recent reports there has been a huge rise in the number of online students around the world”.
Mr Abu Osbeh added the MoU aims to enhance the quality of education in the region, saying: “We believe this partnership will raise the bar for training materials, delivery models, assessment, certification and content, as well as upgrading the capabilities of trainers”. He also added that, “working with Pearson will lead to more agreements, as TAGIUNI and TAGORG’s education training arms intend to become Pearson Vue Testing Centres.
For more information about the products and services offered by both parties, please visit www.edexcel.com/meaor www.tagiuni.com