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The Implementation of National Educational Standards in Austria. Michael Bruneforth BIFIE - Austrian Federal Institute for Education Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School System EURASIAN EDUCATIONAL DIALOGUE 17 .-19. April, Yaroslavl.

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the implementation of national educational standards in austria

The Implementation of National Educational Standards in Austria

Michael Bruneforth

BIFIE - Austrian Federal Institute for Education Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School System


17.-19. April, Yaroslavl


BIFIE - Austrian Federal Institute for Education Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School System

  • Areas of work
    • International Studies (PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS, TALIS)
    • Implementation of national education standards
    • Formative and summative Evaluation of standards
    • Central examination for upper secondary education preparing for tertiary education
    • National Education Reports
spotlight on austrian education
Spotlight on Austrian education
  • Very rich country (4th highest GDP per Capita in EU)
  • High expenditure per student (140% of EU Average) in primary and secondary education
  • Low student teacher ratio and class size
  • But PISA shock in 2003 and 2009:
    • Very low PISA results in reading (470, similar to Russia 459), no EU country scores less
    • Strong relation between education outcomes and family background
changing in paradigm in educational governance
Changing in paradigm in educationalgovernance
  • Since more than a decade there is a change in governance of schools and education in German speaking countries from input oriented control to evidence based output oriented governance and extension of school autonomy
  • In Austria at the centre is shift towards competence oriented teaching based on the definition of nationwide compulsory education standards and a mechanism of formative and summative evaluation
legal basis and conditions
Legal Basis and Conditions
  • From 2004: pilotphasewithselectedpilotschools
  • 2008: alterationofthelawofteaching in schoolstoallowforintroductionofeducationalstandards
  • 2009: educationalstandardsbecomecompulsoryfor German, Mathand English
  • 2009 (grade 8) and 2010 (grade 4): baseline-tests in samples of about 10.000 students each
  • From 2012 onwards yearly assessment of national standards (one subject per year)
annex of the legal regulation
Annex of the legal regulation
  • Competency Models anddescriptorsareformulatedasCan-Do-Statements
  • Competency Models anddescriptorsarelegallyestablished
  • Educational Standards canbeinterpretedasmandatoryandagreed upon socialobjectivesofinstruction
  • Educational Standards arederivedfrom national curriculaandclearlydefinelearningoutcome.
areas covered
Areas covered
  • German (language of instruction) – grades 4 & 8
  • Listening & Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing texts
  • Spelling/Grammar

Math – grades 4 & 8

4 content dimensions

4 process dimensions

  • English, grade 8
  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

English Assessment:

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF)

competencies are
Competencies are …
  • „fashionable termwith a vaguemeaning“ (Weinert 2001)
  • „cognitiveprerequisitestocopingwith a specificrangeofsituations“ (Klieme, Hartig & Rauch, 2008)
  • „cognitiveabilitiesandskillsavailableto/acquiredbyindividualsthatenablethemtosolvespecificproblems, aswellastherelated motivational, volitional andsocialreadinessandskillstoutilizethesolutionssuccessfullyandresponsibly in variable situations“ (Weinert, 2002)
  •  BIFIE use: subject (domain) specificcompetencymodels, focusing on cognitiveskillsandproficiencies
competency m odels
  • Models ofcompetencestructures
    • Dimensionsofcompetence: E.g. TIMSS, grade 8: 4 contentdomains (number, algebra, geometry, dataandchance); 3 cognitivedomains (knowing, applying, reasoning)
  • Models ofcompetencelevels
    • Describespecificskillsandproficienciesusuallyshownbyindividualslocatedatspecificpointsoftheabilitycontinuum
    • Usedtoprovide a criterion-referencedinterpretationofmeasurementresults
competency m odels1
  • Models ofcompetencestructures
  • Models ofcompetencelevels
  • Development models
    • Models describingtheacquisitionofskillsandproficiencies
    • May belinkedtoneurological/psychologicaltheoriesofdevelopment
    • Only a fewexist
    • Wouldbegreattohave a theoreticalfoundationfortests in different grades! (IKM – BIST)
m8 competency m odel
M8 – CompetencyModel


Competency (H3, I2, K2)



The 4x4 gridleadsto 16 nodes, usingcomplexityas a 3rd dimension = 48 nodes

Not veryhandyandthetheoreticalconceptofcomplexitydoes not lenditselftoassessment

example competency model m8
Example:Competency Model M8
  • P: „demonstrating, modelling “ C: „numbersandmeasures“
  • Formulatedascan-do-statements: The studentsareableto
    • transformgivenarithmeticaldatainto (another) mathematicalrepresentation. In doing so, directuseofbasicskillsisnecessary
    • transformgivenarithmeticaldatainto (another) mathematicalrepresentation. In doing so, connectionstoothermathematicalcontents (terms, definitions, representations) oractivitieshavetobeestablished
    • makeandevaluatestatementsabouttheappropriatenessas well asweaknessesandstrengthsof different mathematicalrepresentations (models) ofarithmeticaldata




educational standards the austrian version
Educational Standards –The Austrian Version
  • Three areas of activities
    • Implementation of standards at school and capacity building for teacher: Support of teachers and school heads in implementation
    • Formative evaluation to support teachers diagnostic: On-line evaluation system to be used by teachers
    • Census to monitor and summative evaluation at system, sub-system, school and classroom level
educational standards the austrian version1
Educational Standards –The Austrian Version
  • School-specificdevelopmentofinstruction
    • Mandatoryeducationalstandards
    • Census-survey ofall studentsandschools
    • Feedback to all students, teachers, schools
    • Feedback moderation („Rückmeldemoderation“)
    • Stimulation ofqualitydevelopmentandsupportbyMoE
    • Strong linkageofmonitoringandpracticalschoolandinstructionaldevelopment
    • Strengtheningofschools, schoolmanagementand regional qualitydevelopment
main functions of standards according to the legal regulation
Main functions of standards according to the legal regulation
  • Output orientation: Sustainable output orientation in planning and implementation of instruction
  • Promotion („Förderfunktion“): Diagnosis and specific individual remediation and challenge
  • Evaluation: reliable information about the output of instruction, schools and education system
implementation of standards
Implementation of Standards
  • Supporting materials for instruction
    • Praxishandbücher
    • Themenhefte
    • Aufgabenbeispiele, Interaktive Beispiele
    • Best-Practice-Beispiele
  • Integration with teacher training institutions
    • In-service teacher training (partially mandatory)
    • Pre-Service teacher trainin
    • Research and development work by members of teacher training institutions
diagnosis tool for informal monitoring of competencies
Diagnosis tool for Informal Monitoring of Competencies
  • Teacher administered on-line system
  • Grade 3 and 7, one year before Assessment
  • All Areas of standards
  • Only teachers themselves have access to results
assessment of educational standards
Assessment of Educational Standards
  • Legal assessment cycle: three (school) years
  • In each cycle, the whole target population has to be assessed in all prescribed competency subdomains
    • Grade 4: German, Mathematics
    • Grade 8: German, Mathematics, English
  • Students, teachers, schools and regional education authorities must get feedback about the results (to be used for quality improvement)

Pilot testing: about 10% of population, up to 9000 Students

  • Main test: Census up to 83000 students
    • Speaking domain only with sample for system monitoring
  • 10% of census with external administration and items for next census to ensure linking over time
  • Example: Test session Mathematics Grade 4
item development
Item Development
  • Items are developed to measure sub-competencies or domains, eg. Content = numbers and units and process = demonstrating
  • Dimension „complexity“ is not used as such, since it can‘t be measured empirically
  • We have 16 nodes, upon which an item should fall. We strive for unidimensional items, i.e. items that can be classified as belonging to one specific node only
item development1
Item Development
  • Items aredevelopedtomeasure sub-competenciesordomains, eg. Content = numbersandunitsandprocess = demonstrating
  • Dimension „complexity“ is not usedas such, sinceitcan‘tbemeasuredempirically
  • Wehave 16 nodes, upon which an item should fall. Westrivefor unidimensional items, i.e. itemsthatcanbeclassifiedasbelongingtoonespecificnodeonly
item development3
Item Development
  • Test blueprintspecifiedtheitemstobedeveloped:
    • Mathematicalnode
    • Item format: Multiple Choice, Constructedresponse, …
    • Estimateddifficultyof item
  • Further requirements:
    • adequatforagegroup,
    • nobiasedtowardsgender, race, religion, also takingintoaccount rural/urban differences.
    • does not requireotherknowledgethanmathscontents.
    • Items shouldbe uni-dimensional
  • In ordertosecurevalidityofthetestitems, theywere …
    • writtenbyschoolanduniversityteachers
    • reviewedbyteachers (peerreviewandoutsiderreview)
    • trialled on a sample of grade 8 students – each item was answeredbyat least 200 students
    • item propertieswerereviewedby a teamofpsychometriciansandschoolteachers
    • itemswithlessthandesirableorsurprisingpropertieswereretiredand not used in themaintest
test design
Test Design
  • Multiple matrixsampling
  • Two-stepapproachforthetest design
    • Allocationof „empty“ blockstoformsthatsatifyseveral global prerequisitesforthe design:
      • positionalandcontextualbalance, item security (S90 vs. S10), longitudinal link (BL and BIST-UE 2015)
    • Allocationofitemstoblocksthatsatisfyseverallocalprerequisites:
      • Balanceddifficulty, format, representativeforthecompetenceconstruct, dependency (enemyitems), testmotivation
      • Test information, especiallyalongcutoff-scores
  • UsingRasch model
  • Allowsto express difficultiesofitemsandstudentsability on onecommonscale
  • Allowstomatchtestcyclesover time
  • Allowsforcomplextest design
standard setting
Standard Setting
  • Standard settinggoal: meaningfullydescribedlevels
  • criterion-referenced
  • Phases:

4 levels in Austria in mostdomains

0: standards not reached

1: partiallyreachedstandards

2: reachedstandards

3: exceededstandards

Easy tounderstandfor „laymen“

p roficiency l evel descriptions m8
ProficiencyLevel Descriptions M8

3 – standardsexceeded

Studentspossess fundamental knowledgeandskills in all partsofthemathematicscurriculumandadvancedknowledgestructures, whichexceedtherequirementsoflevel 2, specificallymorepronouncedabilitiesofabstractionandhigherproficiency in combiningpartsofknowledge, methodsorrules. Theyareabletoapplytheseindependently in novelsituations in a flexible way.

2 – standards reached

Students posessfundamental knowledge and skills in all parts of the mathematics curriculum and can use these in a flexible way. They are able to find and apply problem solving strategies, to describe and reason an approach. They are able to handle verbal, graphical and formal representations of mathematical facts in a flexible way and can apply these appropriately. Theay are able to extract relevant information from a differently represented facts (e.g. texts, data material, graphics) and can interpret them in the respective context. They are able to relate their mathematical knowledge and can check, evaluate and/or reason mathematical statements.

1 – standardspartiallyreached

Studentspossess fundamental knowledgeandskills in all partsofthemathematicscurriculumandcanmasterreproductivetasksandcarry out routineprocedures.

standard setting1
Standard Setting
  • „ A standard setting method is a mechanism for helping panelists translate their intentions to the score scale.“ (Reckase, 2006)
  • Goal: Match predetermined descriptors of competency levels to an empiric scale defined by test items
    • Determinecutscoresbetweenlevelsofcompetence
    • Bifie invited a groupofstakeholderstosetthecutscores: teachers(loweranduppersecondary), teachersofdidacticsofmath; representativesofparentsassociations; representativesoftheMoE; representativesofchamberofcommerce; bifie staff
    • Methodused: Item descriptormatchingmethod


Item descriptormatchingmethod


Difficult Item

Level 3

Level 3

Level 2

Level 2

Level 1

Level 1


Easy Item

Ordered Item Booklet

Cut Score 2

Cut Score 1

Freunberger & Yanagida, in press.

standard setting2
Standard Setting
  • Standard settingismoreaboutfinding a societalconsensusthanfinding a constant
  • The goalshouldbeclearbeforetestdevelopmentetcstarts

Feedbackand ReportsInformation aboutresultsof Educational Standards


School report(forschoolmanagement) per school, online

4600 schools

about 3200 primaryand1400 secondary I

School andinstructiondevelopment

10.000 classesabout 6000 primaryand4000 secondary I

Feedback toteachersper teacher, per class/group; online

Feedback tostudents

per participant, online

170.000 students

about 85.000 in grade 4 and 8 each


Feedbackand ReportsInformation aboutresultsof Educational Standards


National report (Minister for Education) aggregated


System development

9 provinces

Provincereports (pres& vice-) foreachprocinceand grade

Supervisoryreports (federalsuperv. authoritiesfor PS & LS/AS) aggregated on fed. stateandsupervised-school type

9 provincesPrimary/4

Lower sec/8, academic sec/8

School development

99 schooldistricts

15 Cities – 84 districts

Supervisoryreports (districtsuperv. authoritiesfor PS and LS) per districtand grade

school report overview of content
School report: overviewofcontent
  • Information aboutschoolresults:
  • compared toAUT
  • compared tothedefinedgoals(in theregulation)
  • compared tootherschoolswithsimilarbasicconditions („fair comparison“)
  • Areas ofconflict:
  • Educational Standards applyto all students – andthereforeto all schools
  • Conditionsofschoolsvarywidely
  • Bringing IKM (grade(s) before BIST) and BIST assessments closer together. Using items in both assessments could lead towards a better understanding of learning
  • Backwash from doing the assessments towards research in the areas of item development, standard setting, feedback … through evaluation of results
  • Outcomes of the assessments should not only allow us to give feedback to schools, teachers and students but also to improve the competence models we use for the assessment
  • Prepare for computer based testing
  • Open databases for external researchers and improve system level monitoring
thank you for your attention



Bundesinstitut BIFIE

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