Giving Compass' Take:

• Linda Jacobson reports that the International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study will include data on 5-year-olds in the U.S. and Europe, sparking disagreement. 

• How could this test help policymakers, educators, and parents better support children? What are the limitations and drawbacks of this approach? 

• Why does it matter? Read about the importance of early childhood learning


Educators and policymakers in the U.S. often cringe when new results from the Program for International Assessment (PISA) are released. Ranking the academic performance of 15-year-olds from industrialized countries throughout the world, the charts tend to show the U.S. in the middle of the pack and usually lead to speculation over why the American education system is not among the best in the world.

So, what might the reaction be next year when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which coordinates the PISA program, releases initial results from the International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study (IELS)?

What some are referring to as “baby PISA" will include a sample of 3,000 5-year-olds each in the U.S., England, and Estonia. In addition to gathering data on children’s characteristics — such as gender, parents’ socioeconomic level, and family makeup — the study will also collect data on children’s “home environment” and on the schools where they attend kindergarten. Researchers will measure children’s skills in literacy, numeracy, and self-regulation.

Other assessments will focus on social-emotional skills, such as empathy and trust, and “pro-social” behavior, such as being cooperative and controlling impulses. Featuring illustrated characters Mia and Tom, the tablet-based activities being used for the study don’t involve any reading or writing. A field trial showed that children did not need prior experience with a tablet to follow the instructions and respond to the prompts — not surprising to the families of most young children.

Read the full article about the International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study by Linda Jacobson at Education Dive.