Can you swing it?

OECD Observer

Click to enlarge.

“Mohammed starts to swing. He is trying to go as high as possible. Which diagram best represents the height of his feet above the ground as he swings?”

The question is from a new publication, The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework, and is a sample of the kind of questions the OECD’s PISA study used to compare students’ mathematical, scientific and literary skills across countries as they approached the end of compulsory education. The new book shows just how the 15-year-olds taking the tests were put through their paces, as well as giving others a chance to find out how they would measure up to PISA, with sample questions in all three areas.

The “swing” test (see diagrams) is one of those in the maths section. Students were asked to look at four graphs and determine which one best represented the height of the feet of a boy sitting on a swing. Other test questions addressed problems such as rival bank offers, asking students to compare different combinations of interest and bonuses and decide where best to place their money, and how to monitor this over time. Basically, the goal was to measure students’ ability to use maths in the real world.

By the way, in case you are stuck on the swing question, the correct answer is at the bottom right-hand corner of the graph.

©OECD Observer No 239, September 2003




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