The Dublin conference saw a strong presence for Network 9 (Student Assessment), with four different symposia, two of which were international in terms of presentations and one of which was truly cross-European, and with eight individual paper sessions on a variety of general themes.
The IEA TIMSS studies: More lessons learned from the Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies
This was a 3-session symposium, comprising eight presentations by researchers from a variety of different countries: Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Israel, the Netherlands, Slovenia and South Africa. Six of the presentations offered findings from exploration of national TIMSS data sets, while two were cross-national in nature. The presentations concerned investigations into subgroup attainment differences and the influence of motivation and curriculum on attainment in science and mathematics.
The IEA Progress in International Reading Literacy Study: explaining children’s performance in reading literacy internationally
This 4-session symposium comprised 12 presentations, again by researchers from a variety of different countries: Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovenia and South Africa. Some papers focused on associations between pupil attainment and background variables, others looked rather at the construct validity of the kinds of reading tests typically used in large-scale surveys, and still others at the challenges faced when planning for survey implementation in multi-lingual multi-cultural countries – South Africa being a particular example.
Assessment messages: Subjects, phases and discourses
This 1-session symposium, featuring presenters from England, Ireland and New Zealand, focused particularly on literacy and science. Presentations focused on assessment practices as barriers to access and achievement, assessment as a message system, what literacy standards might mean and how we should react to them, and assessing aesthetic aspects of English.
National Assessment programmes and PISA: Strength in complementarity
This 4-session symposium comprised a total of 10 presentations, from a variety of European countries: Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and Turkey. Some presentations focused on secondary analysis of PISA data, for example comparing the mathematics profiles of pupils in different countries, searching for explanations for low attainment in reading, and exploring between-school differences. Others focused on the national assessment programmes in operation in their own countries, highlighting challenges, for example in writing assessment, and presenting findings.
- Programme and school effectiveness in mathematics and science
- Assessing pupil attitudes to teachers, teaching and assessment
- Assessment in the creative arts
- Developing/adapting assessment instruments and systems
- Knowledge assessment
- Multiple intelligences and thinking styles
- Exploring assessment validity
- Research into external assessment
Speakers from a variety of European countries presented individual papers on a diverse range of research topics, as the session titles suggest.
Most of the network sessions were very well attended, the symposium sessions particularly so, and there was a consistently high level of audience participation after each presentation.
As in previous conferences, TIMSS was well represented at ECER 2005, but so also, for the first time, were PISA and PIRLS. National assessment featured as well, though to a lesser extent. We hope that ECER 2006 will be another opportunity to consider the value of both international and national survey programmes, but also to explore some of the limitations of such programmes when it comes to the search for irrefutable evidence of factors that promote pupil achievement.
In addition, we send out another appeal for proposals, and in particular symposia proposals, that focus on issues in language assessment – listening and talking as well as reading and writing – or that reflect on the assessment and evaluation challenges in online open, flexible and distance learning. The assessment of problem solving skills remains an area of special interest.