- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

LEPANTO, Ark. (AP) - East Poinsett County 10th-grader Heath Cavitt enjoys competing.

While an upcoming international assessment isn’t an athletic game, Cavitt, 15, said he still wants to excel on it.

Cavitt is among 42 East Poinsett County students who will represent Arkansas in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1JnIZTd ) reported.

“They selected East Poinsett County based on our social economic status,” Principal John Kelly said. “Multiple schools in Arkansas were selected, but it was at the discretion of the school on whether it participated.

“I personally believe this is going to reflect how well prepared our students are based on No Child Left Behind,” Kelly added. “These students under state guidance have been instructed under this act. They are the group with standards-based education.”

PISA is given every three years to measure 15-year-old students’ knowledge in reading, math and science literacy using questions that involve everyday situations, according to its website. Financial literacy will be added to this year’s test.

A provided sample question for the financial literacy exam displayed an invoice with students being asked to explain various parts of it.

The Organization for Economic Coordination and Development coordinates the assessment in 75 countries and educational jurisdictions with the U.S. Department of Education sponsoring U.S. participation. The results will be reported in December 2016.

PISA’s goal is to measure and compare the outcomes of learning. Kelly said it assesses how prepared students are for adult life. The results will show how well students are prepared, what skills they lack and compare that data to other countries and educational jurisdictions.

“Focusing on age 15 provides an opportunity to measure broad learning outcomes while all students across the many participating nations are still required to be in school,” according to PISA’s website. “Because years of education vary among countries and education systems, choosing an age-based sample makes comparisons across countries and education systems somewhat easier.”

Individual scores are confidential, but Kelly said the school will receive comparative numbers to show how its students compare with others.

The East Poinsett County School District has 331 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Kelly said the participating students were randomly selected from the 56 who qualified for PISA.

These students will meet Tuesday with PISA officials for a pre-assessment visit before they take the test on Oct. 22. It will take three hours to complete, and 11 students will be also asked to take a one-hour financial literacy assessment.

Cavitt’s mother is a banker. He said she has taught him some about checking and savings accounts so he feels somewhat comfortable taking a financial literacy exam. However, he feels he still has a lot to learn.

Cavitt and other participants will be rewarded for their efforts.

Schools that participate will receive $200 while each participating student will receive $25. Students who take the financial literacy assessment will earn an additional $15.

Each student will also receive a certificate from the U.S. Department of Education for four hours of volunteer service. East Poinsett County allows students who complete 75 hours in grades 9-12 to receive one academic credit that counts toward graduation.

The school’s participation has been well received by its patrons, Kelly said.

“We feel honored to be selected,” he added, “and to be a part of the world’s largest study.”

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com


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