PISA’s Promise

The OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment has elicited considerable criticism. But, though there are significant challenges inherent in comparing schools across countries, PISA remains an invaluable tool for policymakers attempting to improve their national education systems.

PARIS – By assessing the capabilities and knowledge of students in the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment provides valuable options for reform and information on how to achieve it. PISA brings together policymakers, educators, and researchers from around the world to discuss what knowledge students need to become successful and responsible citizens in today’s world, and how to develop more effective, inclusive education systems.

Some claim that the PISA results are based on too wide a range of factors to be relevant, while others point out the challenges inherent in testing students in various languages and with different cultural backgrounds. Of course, comparing education across countries is not easy, but PISA remains the most useful tool yet developed for policymakers attempting to improve their national education systems.

Before PISA, many governments claimed that they oversaw the world’s most successful education systems, and insisted that they had already taken the steps needed to address any shortcomings. By exposing weaknesses in a particular country’s system, PISA assessments help to ensure that policymakers recognize – and, it is hoped, address – remaining deficiencies.

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