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Since 2006, Georgia has taken part in several major international research studies on the education system:

  1. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
  2. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
  3. Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
  4. Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-m)
  5. Teaching and Learning International Survey
These research studies bear importance for several reasons:  Georgia will be able to identify shortcomings in the education system and become familiarised with successful education systems all over the world. Therefore, the country will be able to gain experience vis-à-vis international trends and subsequently will revise the teaching process and implement

necessary reforms.

FactCheck

sought to briefly analyse the performance of Georgian students in these research studies and compare the changes over the years.

This article briefly reviews the results of two research studies. In the future, FactCheck

will offer our readers an analysis of the results of the other research studies as well.

Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRIS)

PIRLS is an international research study that aims to assess reading literacy among students aged nine-to-ten years. It also aims to identify all of the progress and shortcomings which fourth-graders all over the world have in terms of reading literature. PIRLS assesses both the individual ability of the student and the environment (family, school, teachers, teaching methodology, etc.) where students develop their literacy skills. In other words, PIRLS seeks to identify factors affecting the process of learning to read.

In regard to the PIRLS research design, fourth-graders read texts in their native language, comprehend their content and structure, identify cause-effect relations, differentiate facts and opinions from each other, respond to various questions about the content and make inferences, etc. Questionnaires about one’s learning environment comprise an important part of PIRLS:  student questionnaire, teacher questionnaire, parent questionnaire, school principal and national curriculum questionnaire. The research study identifies the general attitude of a particular country’s students towards reading, reading frequency, problems associated with reading, the importance of a school’s educational resources (libraries), etc.

PIRLS is administered every five years. Georgia took part in PIRLS for the first time in 2006. Since 2006, Georgia has participated in PIRLS three more times in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

In 2006, 45 countries took part in PIRLS. The results of PIRLS showed that the average literacy indicator for Georgian students was 471 points. With this performance, Georgia significantly lagged behind the average figure (500 points) of literacy as measured by PIRLS. Consequently, Georgia ranked 37th

of 45 countries. Only 1% of Georgian students managed to be among the highest performers, 15% achieved high results, 50% - average results and 82% - low results. Of the participant students, 18% were unable to surpass the minimum competence level.

Graph 1:

Georgian Students PIRLS Performance in 2006

123123123 Source: National Assessment and Examinations Centre

The number of participants in PIRLS 2011 remained at 49 countries and comprising 290,000 students. In 2011, Georgia showed a better performance and garnered 488 points. This figure is lower than the average 500 although the country obtained a higher position in the ranking – 34th of 45 as compared to 2006. Georgia was among the 13 countries[1]

which managed to improve its literacy scale points as compared to 2006.

In regard to assessment levels, 2% of Georgian students are among the highest performers, 21% achieved high results, 60% - average results and 86% - low results. A total of 14% of students did not surpass the minimum competence level. In this component too, Georgian students improved their performance in 2011.

Table 1: Georgia’s PIRLS Performance in 2011 and Comparison with PIRLS International Medians
Highest Level High Level Average Level Low Level Subscale
Georgia 2% (0.3) 21% (1.2) 60% (1.6) 86% (1.4) 14%
International Median 8% 44% 80% 95% 5%

Fifty countries and 11 territorial units[2]

took part in PIRLS 2011 comprising 310,000 students. Apart from PIRLS’s already existing components, a computerised component – e-PIRLS programme was also added in 2016. This programme assesses student capability to retrieve information from the internet and understand that information. It identifies the level of internet usage among students aged nine-to-ten years.

Georgia’s points did not increase in PIRLS 2016 as compared to 2011. The country garnered 488 points, which was similar to its position in 2006 (see Graph 1), and ranked 37th

given the increased number of participating countries. Georgia’s average scale points still lagged behind the world’s median at 500 points which means that the country is still among the low-performing countries.

In accordance with the PIRLS 2016 results, Georgia’s performance in school safety, orderliness and discipline was especially grave. Of 50 participants, Georgia was among the last ten countries. Apart from these three components, Georgia’s second worst results were in the bullying component. PIRLS administrators noted that students very often talk about facts

of being bullied.

Graph 2:

 Georgia’s Average Points in PIRLS 2006, PIRLS 2011 and PIRLS 2016

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In regard to literacy achievement levels, only 2% of Georgian students were among those scoring the highest results in PIRLS 2016 whilst 22% achieved high results, 26% had low results and 14% fell below the subscale. Of importance is that urban and rural schools have different performances. A total of 11% of students in urban schools do not have minimum literacy skills whilst this figure is at 18% in rural schools. The performance of public schools also significantly lags behind that of private schools. The different performance indicates that Georgia’s education system cannot deliver the ultimate goal of being equally accessible in spite of a school’s location and its status. PIRLS also demonstrated that Georgian students have unequal access to learning resources.

In regard to the e-PIRLS 2016 results (the assessment of acquiring information from the internet and understanding the information), Georgia had a much worse performance as compared to PIRLS 2016. The country garnered 477 points which is significantly below the average and was ranked 13th of the 14 participant countries.[3] Of additional note is one important factor. The PIRLS 2006 and PIRLS 2011 results have been translated into Georgian and a respective text-book based on these results has also been published. This textbook is available for anyone and was sent to every school in order to carry out a problem analysis at the individual school level. However, the same did not happen in regard to PIRLS 2016. In the process of writing this article, FactCheck

contacted the National Assessment and Examination Centre to learn whether or not the PIRLS 2016 results were being processed for dissemination. Unfortunately, we did not receive any reply.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

TIMSS is an international research study of mathematics and natural sciences which aims to facilitate the teaching of these domains. TIMSS measures a student’s capability to understand the world and helps him to develop thinking skills.

TIMSS consists of two parts. The first part envisions testing of students in mathematics and science in order to assess their achievements and the second part studies those factors which affect the teaching and learning processes of the aforementioned disciplines. TIMSS is administered in two parts for two different age groups. The first group includes nine-to-ten year old (fourth graders) students and the second group includes 13-14 year old students (eighth graders). TIMSS is administered regularly every four years. Georgia took part in TIMSS three times in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

In 2007, 59 countries with a total of 425,640 students took part in TIMSS. The international average scale point in TIMSS is 500. In 2007, both age groups of Georgian students significantly lagged behind the international average. The average scale point for fourth graders was 448 whilst for eighth graders it was 410. Georgia was significantly outperformed by many post-Soviet countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Ukraine. The country ended up in the last quarter of the ranking.

In regard to the international level of achievement, only 1% of Georgian fourth-graders achieved scores in the highest level whilst 33% could not surpass the minimum level and ended up below the subscale. In regard to eighth-graders, here too only 1% achieved the highest level and 44% failed to surpass the minimum threshold.

In 2011, 63 countries with a total of 600,000 students took part in TIMSS. Georgia’s performance both in the lots for fourth-graders and eighth-graders did improve. The average points for fourth-graders increased marginally by two points and reached 450 whilst eighth-graders garnered 431 points which is 21 points more as compared to 2007. The international achievement levels improved as well – 2% of Georgian students achieved scores within the highest results whilst 28% failed to surpass the minimum threshold.

In spite of the improved performance, Georgia still significantly lagged behind the world’s average figures and was ranked

among the group of developing countries.

In TIMSS 2015, Georgia had a better performance in every component. The average scale point for fourth-graders was 463 and for eighth-graders – 453. The number of students who failed to surpass the minimum threshold also dropped. Only 22% of fourth-graders and 28% of eighth-graders failed to surpass the minimum threshold. In spite of this better performance, the average points for Georgian students were still much less as compared to the world average. As a matter of fact, in 2007-2015 in this period of eight years, Georgian students were unable to close the gap with the average level of knowledge.

Graph 3: Georgian Fourth-Grader and Eighth-Grader Performance

in TIMSS 2007, TIMSS 2011 and TIMSS 2015

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Results are especially grave in the field of mathematics as 50% of students failed to surpass the minimum level in math.

TIMSS identifies many problematic aspects in the teaching process. For instance, rural students substantially lag behind urban students in terms of their achievements in mathematics. There is a visible difference between the public and private school student performance as well because private schools have a much better performance. In accordance with TIMSS administrators, Georgia managed to improve its performance in TIMSS 2015 owing to urban private schools. The TIMSS study pays a great deal of attention to safety problems at schools. The majority of Georgian students does not feel safe at school.

Finally, TIMSS 2007, TIMSS 2011 and TIMSS 2015 demonstrated that at the present moment Georgian students are unable to compete with students

of most of other countries in mathematics and science.

[1]

Taiwan, Denmark, UK, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, USA.

[2]

Part of a country or a separate language group. For instance, only Ontario took part from Canada. Only Belgium’s French-speaking part participated, etc.

[3] Singapore, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Taiwan, Canada, Israel, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Georgia, UAE.

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