25 Points

Why Pisa is Past it Sell-by-date


1. Pisa is based upon a competative ranking of countries, where it is theoretically possible for all countries to be ranked to fractions of the Pisa estimated average scores (Points) that they are derived from, such as if every country in the world scored 600 Pisa points.

2. The Pisa scores are based upon estimated average scores, where  children of all capabilities that contribute to the average score creates a cocktail where high attaining children can balance out low attaining ones.  In the United States, for instance. there are very high attaining children and very low attaining ones, their Pisa average score is below the United Kingdom score.

3.  Children in Far East, as the B.B.C. School Swap South Korean Style illustrated, undertake excessive private tuition (This is increasing across the world) so that children's Pisa attainment is no simply the product of their schooling. The program demonstrated children were being instructed in South Korea not taught, they were taught by rote.


4. The curriculum in the high Pisa attaining Far East countries is very narrow, concentrating on basic skills. Children receiving  broad curriculum in the West cannot be expected to compete with them.

5. The Pisa estimated average scores are meaningless artificial constructs. Shanghai China's reading scores, whilst remaining among the highest Pisa countries in 2015 when they were considered seperately to the other Chinese provinces, it official score were combined with it in 2015, their reading scores plummet below United Kingdom levels.

6. There has been an issue high proportion of children not registering for Pisa in Shanghai in comparison with western countries.


7.  The O.E.C.D. recognises that the Pisa results illustrate socio-economic. Countries do not have identical socio-economic status.

8.  The same Pisa sample is taken from countries like the United States. which has a global population of 316 million people and Ireland with a population of 3 million. There are states in the United States that are larger countries, a cohort of countries can have vast impact upon  Pisa ranking, because a couple of Pisa points can create huge leaps or drops in Pisa ranked positions.

9. Making comparisons between Wales and England is not valid because the socio-economic mix will be different.  If all the the states in the United States was individually scored and ranked, there would a wide range of them.

10. Pisa tends to be viewed like the World Cup of Education, but a rank is just an order, it is meaningless number. Theorectically the difference between a single 'rank' could a single Pisa point, a fraction of the point or hundred Pisa points.


11. The O.E.C.D. admits that the scope of the Pisa assessments are limited so they do not encroach too much on children's attainment. Officially it is supposed to be a 'dip stick' assessment.

12. English is amongst the most difficult languages in the world, it has more irregular than languages like Italian and Far East languages are symbolic. Pasi Salsberg, Finish Educationalist, claims the best way to achieve poor Pisa results is to do them in English.

13. Dyslexia has a greater incidence in irregular languages like English than regular languages like Italian. About 10% of children have dyslexia to some degree.

13. Each language in the world is unique, languages cannot always be translated into others, it can be difficult to set common languages standards within a language, apart from making comparisons between languages. The notion that each language in the world can be of equivalent difficult and can be measured to given standard is ridiculous.

14. Language skills are fundamental to maths, science and problem solving. Retarded language development in a difficult language can retard children’s ability to perform successfully across the curriculum.

15. Problem solving is a higher order skill than simple answering a question and children with higher working memory capacity will be more inclined to solve problems. Under achievers may not be able to demonstrate their core capabilities like basic reading.

16. Pisa creates a common core curriculum of skills that children must conform to if they are to do well in them. It cannot assured the curriculum is appropriate for children's needs and countries do not conform to the whole curriculum be punnished with low Pisa scores.

17. If it is accepted that that children's learning potential is not equal, Pisa only rewards countries for high average attainment. It does not assess what countries achieve with children of lower learning potential.

18. Pisa does not consider what the whole state of countries education systems.

 19. Pisa is not scored by percentage marking, estimates of children's are made through extremely complicated alogrithms, repeated calculations. They estimate the children levels of attainment through essential working out what learning bars them jump, questions that can answer, and those they can not. It is like watching a hurdles race with different height bars, Pisa works out which bars children have jumped over and those they should. 

20. Different information is derived from the same question. There is no seperate assessment for problem solving.

21.  Pisa alogrithms are calculated from thousand of repeated calculations and weightings.  This makes it impossible for anyone except highly skilled staticians to work out how the results are obtain and how reliable they really are.

22.  The ranks and average only measure a narrow range of whole curriculum.  The intrinsic value of a broad curriculum is not known or assessed.

23.  Pisa is highly competative, which through it publicity, is coercing countries to conform to  achieve the perceived standard without considering how its achieved.  There is reluctance of Far East countries to broaden their curriculum, while  those in the West are narrowing theirs.

24.  Pisa is applied to children of 15 years of age.  It does not consider what levels of attainment of children lower down the system, nor after it and despite the Pisa doom and gloom, many children in the United Kingdom go to university.

25. The need to create children, who can become the future professionals like doctors and scientists in valid, but there is no evidence this will be the only needs of a future society.  If Pisa coerces all countries to conform to its competative ambitions, the world will be populated by Pisa clones, a generation with ideal capabilities.


  There is value in Pisa in that it gives an incentive of countries to give attention to the international assessment, but even Andreas Schliecher admits that it does not assess the quality of countries education system. There is evidence that children are not even taught in Far East countries like South Korea.

      The real problem is how Pisa has been used by politiclans and the media throughout the world for a  purpose it was not designed for. It is

a 'dip stick' assessment that informs something about children's education, but it is not clear what it is. In professional terms as O.E.C.D. suggest it provides pointers that need to  be investigated.

 The future trend in education is towards considering the 'bottom up' cognitive view of learning,  as much as top down evaluations of attainment, which is not consider the how. The problem with Pisa is that it is super-tanker of a process and it can easily be reform to cater for developing what is in children best interests to achieve educationally. 

      There are narrow minded argument that Welsh medium education accounts for Wales Pisa low ranking, but Wales remains around the Pisa average, and deep research needs to be done to evaluate such issues.