In the buildup to releasing the latest PISA results, many sites have begun sharing PISA-related pieces. As we have done in previous years, IEN will share its own scan of headlines across the world when the results are released in a few weeks. This week, we wanted to highlight one piece in particular. As part of the IOE blog, John Jerrim offers an intriguing critique or caution of reading the PISA results. To share just a few excerpts from Jerrim’s “Should we eat more fish or more ice-cream to boost PISA scores?” Jerrim suggests:
If anyone has ever read one of the international PISA reports or seen Andreas Schleicher present they will know that the OECD is rather fond of cross-national scatterplots. These illustrate the relationship between two variables measured at the country level.
Take, for instance, the chart below. This has been taken from one of Mr Schleicher’s blogposts, and illustrates the relationship between a country’s test scores and its rate of economic growth. It has been interpreted by the OECD as showing “that the quality of schooling in a country is a powerful predictor of the wealth that countries will produce in the long run”.
The take-away message (no pun intended)
Hopefully, the point of this blogpost has become clear.
When the PISA results get released at the start of December, the international report and presentations given by the OECD are bound to include this kind of graph, along with stories about how ‘high-performing countries’ all do X, Y or Z.
Clearly, we should be treating any such interpretation of the PISA results with caution. There are likely to be hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons why some countries do well on PISA and others don’t. In reality, it is almost impossible to separate these competing reasons out.
What we do know is that overly simplistic “explanations” for the PISA results must be avoided. Organisations like the OECD have their own agenda, and it is just too easy for such groups to use the results to promote their own hobby-horses.
For the full blog post, see the IOE blog.