International comparisons of educational achievement and participation are important benchmarks for the progress of Australian students.

Studying how well other countries educate their citizens, and deliver opportunities to learners within their education and training systems, helps us evaluate our own education system. Exploring policy developments and initiatives in different countries is also an important means for identifying improvement opportunities in Australian education.

International Study of City Youth

The International Study of City Youth (ISCY) was a CIRES-led, original and large-scale international longitudinal study of 10th grade students in 15 cities across the world.

ISCY was designed to compare how well school systems in Europe, Canada, North America, Asia and Australia are preparing young people for further study and work. It measured the impacts of the distinctive institutional arrangements of each system and compared the structure of education and training opportunities at and beyond school.

The baseline year involved over 10,000 students participating in a standardised online survey that was translated into various languages, a student assessment of reading and numeracy, and measures of students’ socio-emotional skills. The longitudinal component also aimed to explore student journeys through school and into further study, work and adult life.

Research findings from ISCY feature in several dedicated volumes published and soon-to-be published by Springer and the American Educational Research Association, including a volume comparing the causes and implications of educational inequality across cities.

Clients: Australian Research Council (ARC) (Discovery project); Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

Years: 2010-2015

Expansion of the International Study of City Youth

This ARC Linkage project was conducted by CIRES in partnership with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). A key focus was the measurement and evaluation of so-called ‘21st century’ skills.

The project compared student self-report, direct assessment and teacher judgement of select 21st century skills and key capabilities defined by the Victorian curriculum within case study schools in Melbourne. Participants from the various schools were brought together in a workshop, which was jointly coordinated by the VCAA and CIRES, to discuss research findings and the relevance of these skills in the Victorian curriculum framework. The VCAA gained an insight into the development and usability of student self-reported measure to track student development of 21st century skills and capabilities. This knowledge contributes to their ongoing interest in teacher judgement against curriculum standards and recently acquired direct assessment tools that measure critical and creative thinking.

This project was developed on the basis of a key technical paper published online by CIRES. The paper drew on existing literature to develop new and robust scales for measuring 21st century skills, engagement and dispositions using student self-report surveys that are suited for international comparison. Subsequent work undertaken on the measurement and evaluation of 21st century skills by CIRES researchers, features in an upcoming collection of papers due to be published by the American Educational Research Association.

Clients: ARC (Linkage project); Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

Years: 2016-2019