FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE LETTER, SEE THE PUBLICATION IN ‘GLOBAL POLICY':
AND THE GUARDIAN
ANSWERS (IN CAPS) TO QUESTIONS BY A NORWEGIAN JOURNALIST (HANNE JAKOBSEN, MORGENBLADET)
Dear Dr. Meyer,
My name is Hanne Jakobsen, I work as a journalist for the Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet, and I’m currently writing a brief article about the open letter in The Guardian about PISA and the negative consequences of this test. I have a few questions I’d like to ask you, and with the time difference between the US and Norway, I thought it easiest to send them via e-mail:
– Why did you decide to organize this letter? What is your main concern with PISA?
THE IMMEDIATE PROMPT FOR WRITING THE LETTER WAS A DISCUSSION WITH MR. SCHLEICHER AT THE AMERICAN EDUCATION RESEARCH ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE IN PHILADELPHIA IN APRIL 2014 WHERE HE DISMISSED CRITICISM ABOUT PISA’S NARROW FOCUS ON ECONOMICALLY USEFUL SKILLS AND ABOUT THE DISPROPORTION BETWEEN OECD’S INFLUENCE ON GLOBAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND THEIR INACCESSIBILITY TO DEMOCRATIC CONTROLS.
– Norwegian politicians who are positive to standardized testing often say that PISA influences the media more than it does schools and teachers – who know that PISA scores is only a small part of the picture. Isn’t that a legitimate point? Are the critics of school testing and PISA exaggerating the importance of this one test?
THERE ARE NUMEROUS EXAMPLES WHERE GOVERNMENTS HAVE DECLARED THEIR EDUCATION SYSTEMS “IN CRISIS” AND BEGUN FUNDAMENTAL REFORM BASED ON PISA PRECEPTS (GERMANY, JAPAN, MEXICO, GREECE, NEW ZEALAND, AND NOW SWEDEN, WHICH HAS JUST INVITED OECD TO COME HELP SOLVE THEIR “ED CRISIS”). IT WOULD SEEM THAT IT IS THOSE GOVERNMENTS WHICH EXAGGERATE THE ROLE OF PISA, NOT THE CRITICS.
– Do you think the OECD might actually postpone the next round of PISA, as you suggest?
THE POINT OF THIS SUGGESTION IS TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THERE IS NOTHING AUTOMATIC OR INEVITABLE ABOUT PISA. IT CAN BE PUT IN PLACE AND STOPPED BY PEOPLE.
Heinz-Dieter Meyer (Ph.D. Cornell University) is Associate Professor of Education and Governance at the State University of New York. His latest book is “PISA, Power, and Policy—The Emergence of Global Educational Governance, Oxford: Symposium” (co-edited with A Benavot). He is also author of “OECD’s PISA—A Tale of Flaws and Hubris”, Teachers College Record. He has taught at the University of Goettingen (Germany) and the State University of New York, and held many visiting appointments including at Peking University and the East-West Institute (Hawaii). More information on the letter can be found at: