Why do we need an international study of children starting school?

For two reasons.  It can help contextualise the information for tests such as PISA and it can help inform policies associated with young children.  It is universally recognised that children's early development and their progress during the first year of school are crucial for their later success.  Policy makers everywhere are interested in knowing how well their children are doing at this key stage in their life, not just in their own country, but also in relations to others.  Questions such as:
  • What do children know and can do when they start school in my country?
  • What progress do they make during their first year?
  • How does the development of children in my country compare with other countries at the start of school?
  • How do children compare after a year in school?
  • What do these differences say about the effectiveness of early years policies in my country by comparison with other counties in similar circumstances?
  • To what extent are differences in later international surveys (e.g. PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS) explained by differences in the early years?
  • How strong are the links between development and socio-economic status in my country and how does that compare with similar jurisdictions?
  • To what extent can differences in children's starting points be attributed to differences in pre-school provision and home environment over and above socio-economic status within and across countries?
For the first time, it will provide accurate benchmarks of the attainment of children starting school on an international basis.  Over time, it will generate stronger and stronger evidence to enable national and regional authorities to contextualise their results from studies such as PISA and to compare their early childhood education and development approaches and innovations against their earlier benchmarks.