Pisa Explained - hgunn.uk

         Andreas Schlicher has been called the world's headmaster, but there is no evidence he has ever had a school inspection, 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. It is highly questionable why it is necessaey to
 publicise countries estimated average scores developed from to a 1000th of a degree in Pisa. G.C.S.E. results are not published in this way.

     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 a 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 children's scores in test taken in each country. Only a sample of children's attainment is made in each country. It is unclear what is meant by a Pisa average child.

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

     The fundamental weakness of the Pisa results is the number of children having private tuition across the world. This is increasing. Children is South Korea where undertaking child labour hours in Hagwan's night classes after school up to 10 o'clock at night.

       It appears reasonable to conclude that 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. All countries cannot achieve top rankings. It would be impossible.

      Andrea 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. Children do around five hours home work each night there.

        Education ministers in the United Kingdom will be delighted to learn those countries, who were aiming to exceed Shanghia-China's 2012 reading attainment, which historically has been first ranked, that when Shanghai reading results were combined with the other Chinese provinces, its reading score was lower than the United Kingdom one. Their maths and science scores plummeted also

       This is was despite the fact the United Kingdom estimated averages score remained basically the same.

Why is Pisa Ranked

     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. There have been some recent changes.

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. It is process like trying to work, which level attainment bar, children are able to jump over.

The Cultural and Economic Differences

       In the Far East parents view themselves as 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 are 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, who makes them easier to learn. In the Far East they have a symbolic? written language.

Basic Subjects

       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. The spread in Children's attainment because of working memory.

     In countries like South Korea children mathematical abilty was primed, because they were obsessed with the subject. Western children will need to revise their maths to bring all of it into applied capabilitity. Reading skills is a skill that will be kept primed.

Do We Really Know What Pisa Informs

        If the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is considered, which are part of the United Kingdom, each Pisa country receives an individual scores, but strictly speaking they are not ranked as individual countries by Pisa. There is officially only a United Kingdom score.

       There is only one Pisa score and ranking for the 49 States of the United States. There are states there, who purchase their individual scoring in the same way as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland obtian theirs.

           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 one same overall aggregated United Kingdom result.

         When Shanghai China, which has historically been amongst the highest  ranking countries, when it amalgamated with other Chinese provinces in 2015, their amalgamated reading scores plummited to below United Kingdom score. The Pisa individual score for the Shanghai province, remained unchanged.

       If scores like Wales is considered, which tends to have generally lower Pisa scores, because of social deprevation, there will be areas of England which would have some similar results if the right rings are drawn around them. A cream of higher performing children can counter-balance lower performing children.

          There is alos issue of country size. There are individual countries that are smaller than the individual states of the United States. The smallest is Luxumberg. A cluster of these countries score can have a massive impact upon Pisa rankings. 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 

Dylan Wiliam

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 in his new book.

Williams refers to the fact that although the United States does poorly in P.I.S.A. It achieve reasonably well in the TMMS of maths and XX of reading that are a different type of assessment at different ages to P.I.S.A. He raises the concerns about language difficulty and the viladity of performance comparisons made about children speaking different languages.

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.

        If all countries to contact continue to fight competitively to achieve high Pisa ranking, all they w
oulf need to do is to abandon all school subjects oher 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.   
      Ultimately there will become a 
need for seven days a week schooling to be introduced, and abandon school holidays, and for them to be given 'meals on wheels', so they will not need to interrupt their studying sitting down to eat! This is where competitive schooling can only lead to.

         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.

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