No. 218 - The quality of Italian education: a comparison between the international and the national assessments

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by Pasqualino Montanaro and Paolo Sestito April 2014

This work verifies the consistency of the results of two surveys of Italian students' proficiency: the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Italy's national assessment (Invalsi), both conducted in 2012. Focusing especially on the common part of the reference student population (15-year-olds in the second year of high school), the two surveys offer evidence of a similar pattern of achievement differentials in Italy both in relation to different family backgrounds and at the geographical level. The results are also consistent with regard to the overall variance of the scores, although some problems arise in the Invalsi national assessment owing to a significant incidence of cheating and imperfect correction for it, which generates further variability of scores. The two surveys also provide similar results at the level of both individual students and schools. These findings are a good starting point for the joint use and re-designing of the two surveys; in particular, they suggests the advisability of designing ex ante mechanisms for anchoring the Invalsi scores in the metrics provided by PISA, with the indubitable advantage of permitting comparisons across time and with other OECD countries.