Pisa Explained - hgunn.uk


         Andreas Schlicher has been called the worlds headmaster, but there is no evidence he has ever had school inspectors, such as E.S.T.Y.N. knocking on his door. The greatest concern about Pisa, the international school assessments, is that he has created a competitive ranking system.

          The Pisa ranking is meaningless measure of order. A runner who comes second in a marathon race can be fractions of second, minutes or even hours behind the winner. Wh
y it is necessary to publicise countries rankings developed from assessment of a countries performance to a 100th of a degree is a complete mystery.

     The Pisa estimated average scores are not understood by the public. Few people will know that an average Pisa score is 500 points. Why they are not scored in percentages is also complete mystery.

What Does Pisa Tell Us

      Pisa provides an estimated average score for each country. The score is created from a cocktail of aggregation of scores only a sample of children's attainment on a sample assessment of their capabilities. It is ambiguous, unclear what is meant by a Pisa average child.

       Pisa unlike school inspectors does not inform on the quality of teaching. The inputs Tommy claimed from his desk in Seoul, South Korea on the 2016 B.B.C. School Swap South Korean Style that the teachers there were not teaching. They were presenting information not creating understanding.

     The other problem with Pisa is the issue who is doing the teaching. Children is South Korea where undertaking child labour hours in Hagean's night classes after school. The number of children having private tuition across the world is increasing.

Cultural and Economic Differences

       The culture of the Far East is that parents are responsible for their children's school attainment, which is why they arrange for their children to have private after school tuition. This contrasts with the individualistic culture of western schooling, where schools are viewed as being responsible for children's education.
          There are also economic situations that influence Pisa also. There weak social security systems in many countries in the Far East. There is also greater employment opportunities in the growing new economies of the world, such as the Far East.


        Developing language fluency is fundamental to all learning. Certain languages are easier to learn than others. Languages like Italian are more regular than languages like English and they are easier to learn. In the Far East they have a symbolic? language.

Is Pisa Fundamentally Flawed

        If the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is consider they are considered as being part of the United Kingdom for the Pisa assessment. Each country receives an individual scores. Strictly speaking they are not ranked as individual countries by Pisa. Their ranking does not exist.

       There is only one Pisa score and ranking for the 49 states of the United States. There are states in the United States who purchase their individual scoring as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland do. This means that they obtain two Pisa results.

           Where two results are obtained for Pisa the results will not be the same. The individual scores for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be identical to the United Kingdom score. If the seperate scores were not obtained, they will all have the same overall aggregated result.

         When Shanghai China, which has be amongst the highest achieving country, when it amalgamated with other Chinese provinces, their amalgamated reading scores plummited to below United Kingdom score. Nothing had changed. The Pisa individual rank for the Shanghai province, remained unchanged.

          There is the issue of country size. There individual countries that are smaller than the individual states of the United States. The smallest is Luxumberg. A cluster of these can have a massive impact upon Pisa ranking. If the United States states were individually scored and ranked, there would be a huge variety of different scores.
        Although Pisa tends to be viewed like the world cup of education, there is no evidence the Pisa rankings and estimated average scores has intrinsic value. Dylan Wliam () a recognised world authority on education has seriously question the value of Pisa. The O.E.C.D. admits it is not intended to assess the quality of countries educational .

Does Pisa have Any Value

Pasi Salsberg, a respected Finish Educationalist,has claimed that Pisa is a germ that kills schools.

aving a very native impact on education  of many countries, because of its cometativeness, and it is creating 'panic' that is leading to knee jerk changes to established educational systems.

      There is now growing skepticism about the value of Pisa.  Dylan William,  who is world authority on education, is latest authority question the value of Pisa.

         The Cockcroft Report (1982) contended that even intelligent people can experience difficult in applying mathematics. The greatest concern about Pisa appears to centres around mathematical performance.

      There are certain politicians who appear to have difficulties with  problem solving and reading. The political and media response to the Pisa rankings appear to prove this.

           A rank is an order. A taxi rank is an ordered group of taxis. If the first ten people were ranked in a marathon race, then there could fractions of a second between them or an interval of hour between first and second. There could be any cocktail of spacing of them

          In Pisa even when two countries have the same estimated average scores, countries are ranked by fractions of the score. If all countries had the same estimated average score, then they would still be ranked. Not every country can improve their ranking. Only one country can be top and bottom ranked.

Why is Pisa Ranked?

       It appears reasonable to conclude Andreas Schliecher wants every country in the world to improve their educational standards by fighting, engage in rat race against each other to reach the highest rankings. This could only be practical if the learning potential of children is unlimited.

     Andreas Schliecher clearly markets Shaghai-China as the being his vision of what he wants other countries to achieve, despite fact that he never denied that a greater proportion of 15 years did not take Pisa assessments Shanghai in comparison to western countries.

        Education ministers in the United Kingdom will be delighted to learn those who were aiming to exceed Shangha-China's 2012 reading attainment, who were first ranked, that since they have been combined with other Chinese provinces, its reading score is now lower than the United Kingdom one. 

       This is despite the fact the United Kingdom estimated averages score remaining the same.

Why are Pisa Estimated Average Scores not in Percentages?

       The Pisa estimated average scores are graded out of 1,000 points. This means that a score of 500 is 500 out of 1,000, which is 50%. 

       Pisa levels are not expressed in terms of the percentage of questions answered correctly. The scoring is a precise point within the six proficiency level. 


What is Andreas Schliecher's Vision? 

     The B.B.C. Wales "School Swap, South Korean Style" provided an insight into what lies behind the top Pisa rankings. South Korea was not as highly ranked as Shanghai-China, but the program did illustrate how that all countries would be increasingly required to do to compete with each other.

       All that would be needed to be done would be to abandon all school subject other than those assessed by Pisa. Arrange for children to attend school night classes up to ten o'clock at night and to also arrange for private tuition for them also. There will become a need for them to learn for seven days a week and abandon school holidays, and for them to be given 'meals on wheels', so they will not need to interrupt their studying sittingd down to eat.

         Shanghai-China considered pulling out Pisa because of the adverse effect it was having on its school system. South Korea was reducing the pressures on its children by reducing their termly examinations and broadening their curriculum to include non Pisa assessed subjects.

Plenary: Doom and Gloom

       Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times Educational Correspodant, was the presenter, gave her 'doom and gloom' assessment of Wales Pisa mathematics ranking on the B.B.C. South Korea Swap program. She graphically showed a list of countries where Wales was positioned at the bottom of her list, where she implied that Wales was bottom ranked at 16th

       But we must be proud of the teenager from St. David's Pembrokeshire School. The gap between Welsh and South Korean was not as great as it appears. 

      The South Korean school system was a highly competitive and the one ranking that South Korea is at the top of is that it has the highest youth suicide rate under 30 in the developed world.

    Andreas Schiecher the Worlds Headmaster stated the following in the T.E.S. (Dec. 2016) :-

 "At the time. we had 28 countries in the O.E.C.D. and only five supported it. The rest said it could not be done, shouldn't be done or the O.E.C.D. shouldn't  do it. It was really hostile".

"I have nothing against rankings as long as it keeps the multiple dimensions of success"

"Countries that have taken a lot of effort will see results; countries who have just done 'this or that' will not see any change"

"Shanghai is a good example. They have some amazing strengths - the fact they succeed with children of all backgrounds, they develop strong conceptual understanding - but there are also weaknesses."

"I do not see any school system as being superior to others."

"I feel that I have to careful think what I say. I feel responsible if I give advice that will not play out to improve the lives of children...I feel the opposite...I feel you cannot have knowledge without using it."

"I think when the classrooms doors are open - when schools know what other countries are doing in a natural way - at that point, when the knowledge is mobilised - you don't need Pisa any more."

     It is questionable how wide Pisa opened the doors in South Korea and whether those children achievement were developed in a natural way, inhumane appears to be the most appropriate word to use. The fact that there is an intent to ask children high order questions does not unquestionably mean the answering of them will illustrate the capability they implied. 

        The Welsh Government has now abandoned it Pisa targets. It hoped that other countries in the United Kingdom will follow their lead.

Letter 2nd December 2006 T.E.S.

The Souel   - Howard Gunn

      "B.B.C. Wales "School Swap: Korean Style" which featured three children visiting a South Korean School illustrates how out of touch with reality the Westminster's governments educational policies are. Children in Seoul experience a 60 hour week. They are in schools and private teaching institutions from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

       An Australian report on Pisa 2012 states that they were satisfied despite a range of East Asian countries being ranked above them. Evidence from Harvard university suggests US dissatisfaction with their scores has concentrated on raising the attainment of socially disadvantaged. They did not apply 'knee jerk' reactions and engage in delusional East Asian rote teaching.

Extract from Book Gormely W. "The Critical Advantage"  Harvard University. Press

     "When an American visited an 'Introduction to Critical Thinking" class in Fujian Province she found pedagogy that was in fact a gross parody of critical thinking.

       In China, student outdistance us on standardised tests, but the educational system to be dominated by rote learning and memorisation, with very few opportunities for critical thinking.

      The emphasis on passive learning, which is sometimes called 'feed the duck'  model (feed the duck until it is full), dates back to Confucianism, which stressed students learning from a wise master rather than students learning how to find the truth for themselves, as in a Socratic approach'.

       This is referred to master-apprentice model in the U.K. I can speak a language and I will show you how to do it.

Daniel Korts - The Testing Charade (20

         South Korea, which ma in this respect 15 percent of all students attend one of the country’s 100,000 after-school private cramming schools. The pressure to do  well is so intense that some observers blame it for the country’s suicide rate, which is the highest among all OECD countries.

            The situation is similar in Singapore, where the press has reported that 70 percent of parents of children from preschool through to the secondary levels send them to “tuition classes,” many of which are cram schools for high stakes assessments

    China’s leading education colleges told me recently that if you observe instruction in tested subjects in the final grade of many in final year of many high schools, you will observe no instruction other than exercises for gaokao, the matriculation exam used for college admissions.