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As a general understanding, standardized achievement tests are designed and administered for a large student population under standard conditions and with standardized procedures. Students respond to identical questions under similar standard procedural conditions. Standardized testing is widespread throughout the globe.

Globally, TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) has been measuring trends in achievement of Math and Science at the fourth and eighth grades from the past 20 years. It has been conducted on a regular 4-year cycle since 1995, making TIMSS 2011 the fifth assessment of Mathematics and Science subjects’ achievement trends. TIMSS conducts comprehensive state-of the-art assessments of student achievement supported with extensive data about country, school, and classroom learning environments. More than 60 countries took part in TIMSS 2011.

PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) was inaugurated in 2001 as a follow-up to International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement(IEA) 1991 Reading Literacy Study. For the past 15 years, PIRLS has measured trends in reading comprehension at the fourth grade. First assessed in 2001, PIRLS has been on a regular 5-year cycle since then. Most recently, PIRLS was expanded in 2011 to include pre-PIRLS, which is a less difficult version of PIRLS. Over 60 countries and sub-national, benchmarking entities are participating in PIRLS 2016, including many that have participated in previous assessment cycles since 2001.

In general, participating countries use TIMSS and PIRLS in various ways to explore educational issues, including: monitoring system-level achievement trends in a global context, establishing achievement goals and standards for educational improvement, stimulating curriculum reform, improving teaching and learning through research and analysis of the data, conducting related studies (e.g. monitoring equity or assessing students in additional grades), and training researchers and teachers in assessment and evaluation (TIMSS & PIRLS, 2015). Likewise, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development launched Program for International Student Achievement (PISA) in 1997 to evaluate education systems worldwide, by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 countries and economies have participated in the assessment (OECD: Programme for International Student Assessment).

In California, for example, Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) has been established by Department of Education, whose sole task is to help schools improve academic excellence of their students (California Department of Education, 2012).

In the context of Pakistan; the government of Punjab has established an autonomous body named Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) to assess students learning achievement at Class V and VIII levels in the province of Punjab. The data collected from 36 districts of the province provide feedback to the system, policy decision-making, educational managers and teachers for improving student learning (Secondary Analysis of Examination Results, 2010). on the same footing Reform Support Unit-Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh initiated standardized testing in Sindh under SAT (Standardized Achievement Test) Project for class V and VIII students studying in all government schools in order to measure the quality of educational standards. The contract for first three years of SAT was awarded to Sukkur IBA through competitive bidding process under Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules.

RSU Karachi

Mr. Zamir Ahmed Khan
Deputy Program Manager (DPM)
Reforms Support Unit
Education & Literacy Department
N.J.V School Building M.A Jinnah Road Karachi Ph No: 021-32722813
Email: zamirkhan9@gmail.com