X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

‘PISA has shifted from being a measure to a target, and in so doing it has lost its value’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 December 2019

Paul Morris.

A recent IOE Blog asks whether England should continue its involvement with the triennial PISA tests and concludes that we should, as it provides a wealth of unexplored data for analysis.

The question is timely as the outcomes of the 2018 PISA exercise have just been released. They show once again that England’s scores are fairly stable and around the average – although the they do show improved scores in Reading and Maths and a decline in Science and Life Satisfaction.

The important question in deciding whether to continue with PISA is: what have been the major benefits over the last 19 years?

(more…)

Should England continue participating in PISA?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 November 2019

John Jerrim.

PISA has now been running since 2000, with England participating in every cycle. Yet involvement does not come cheap. It costs more than £2m every three years for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to take part. Not to mention the burden it places upon nearly 500 schools.

It therefore seems important that we consider whether all this time and effort is worthwhile. Is England really getting enough out of its continued participation in the PISA study?

This blogpost focuses on four key reasons why England has participated in the PISA study, and the value that they bring.

(more…)

Should we eat more fish or more ice-cream to boost PISA scores?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 November 2019

John Jerrim.

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”.

Source: Research by Hanushek and Woessmann, via the OECD Education and Skills Today blog

Sounds convincing, right?

The trouble is, correlation does not equal causation. And, despite the OECD’s obsession with such cross-country relationships, they can often deceive.

(more…)

Is PISA ‘fundamentally flawed’ because of the scaling methodology used?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 November 2019

John Jerrim.

Every time PISA results are released, concerns are raised about the methodology that underpins the work.

One area that has come in for repeated criticism is how the test scores of students are actually produced, as in this article, which asked whether PISA was “fundamentally flawed”.

Such concerns were exacerbated by a seminal paper by Svend Kreiner and Karl Bang Christensen who claimed that their results indicated that using PISA to compare countries was “meaningless”.

(more…)

How do GCSE grades relate to PISA scores?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 October 2019

John Jerrim.

When the reform to GCSEs was initially announced, under the watch of Michael Gove in 2014, the intention was to link performance on the new GCSE exams to the PISA test.

Now, as far as I am aware, this link between PISA and national examination standards has not been established. Instead we have the comparable outcomes policy [PDF] and the national reference test to ensure standards are comparable over time.

Yet the interesting question remains – how do the ‘currency’ of GCSE grades and PISA test scores translate?

(more…)

PISA: are teenagers in England addicted to social media (And does it matter)?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 September 2019

John Jerrim.

There have been lots of concerns raised recently about social media use among young people. This includes links found between time spent on social media and declines in mental health. Similarly, some are now likening constant internet use to an addiction, with teenagers suffering withdrawal symptoms if their smartphone is taken away.

But how frequently do young people in England access social media? Are they any more or less ‘addicted’ to the internet than young people in other countries? And does this supposed addiction to the internet really do their mental health any harm?

Evidence from the latest PISA data available may well hold some clues.

(more…)

Despite the government’s best efforts, there has yet to be any reduction in teachers’ workloads

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 June 2019

John Jerrim.

Five years ago, when results from the TALIS 2013 survey were released, there was one thing that particularly caught the attention of education policymakers, unions and school leaders – teacher workload. This study revealed how lower-secondary teachers in England had one of the longest working weeks anywhere across the world.

This subsequently led to a huge policy effort by the Department for Education to reduce teachers’ workloads. Amongst other things, this included setting up numerous workload review groups, reducing the data burden being placed upon schools and publishing advice and guidance to school leaders about how teachers’ workloads could be reduced.

Today, results from the latest wave of the TALIS survey (conducted in 2018) has been released. This provides the first real opportunity, using genuinely comparable data, to consider (more…)

Is PISA still a fair basis for comparison? Some serious questions have emerged

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 January 2018

John Jerrim
A version of this blogpost also appears on the Centre for Education Economics website.
The OECD’s PISA study compares the science, reading and mathematics skills of 15-year-olds across countries, with the results closely watched by journalists, public policymakers and the general public from across the world.
It’s conducted every three years, and particular attention is now being paid to how the PISA scores of each country are changing over time. For instance, are the academic skills of young people in some countries improving, while in others they are in relative decline?
Of course, to answer such questions robustly, fair and comparable measures (more…)

How similar are the PISA and TIMSS studies?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 December 2017

Christina Swensson
This is the fifth in a series of blogs that delve below the headline findings from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This blog investigates the similarities between TIMSS and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), another large-scale study designed to assess pupil achievement across a number of countries. So how do the headline findings from the two studies compare?
PISA and TIMSS Cycles
TIMSS, administered by the IEA, has been carried out every four years since 1995, a total of six study cycles. The OECD started its own large-scale international survey in 2000 and has been running the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) every three years since then, also a total of six study cycles. The two studies do not normally coincide (more…)

What does the TIMSS 2015 international encyclopedia tell us about how our curriculum and assessment compare with other countries'?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2017

Tina Isaacs and Christina Swensson.
This is the fourth in a series of blogs that delve below the headline findings from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
This blog focuses on what TIMSS can tell us about other countries’ curriculum and assessment systems. It compares information about England, which appeared in the top 10 of three of the four TIMSS assessments areas in 2015, with that of six other high performing jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan. All of these comparator countries featured in the top 10 across all (more…)