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The use (and misuse) of Pisa in guiding policy reform: the case of Spain

Author

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  • Álvaro Choi

    () (Universidad de Barcelona & IEB)

  • John Jerrim

    () (University Colleage of London)

Abstract

In 2013 Spain introduced a series of educational reforms explicitly inspired by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 results. These reforms were mainly implemented in secondary education – based upon the assumption that this is where Spain’s educational problems lie. This paper questions this assumption by attempting to identify the point where Spanish children fall behind young people in other developed counties in terms of their reading skills. Specifically, by drawing data from multiple international assessments, we are able to explore how cross-national differences in reading skills change as children age. Consideration is given to both the average level of achievement and the evolution of educational inequalities. Our conclusion is that policymakers have focused their efforts on the wrong part of the education system; educational achievement is low in Spain (and educational inequalities large) long before children enter secondary school. This study therefore serves as a note of caution against simplistic interpretation of the PISA rankings; policymakers must take a more nuanced approach when enacting important educational reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Álvaro Choi & John Jerrim, 2015. "The use (and misuse) of Pisa in guiding policy reform: the case of Spain," Working Papers 2015/6, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2013/6/doc2015-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Veruska Oppedisano & Gilberto Turati, 2010. "What are the causes of educational inequalities and of their evolution over time in Europe? Evidence from PISA," Working Papers XREAP2010-16, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Dec 2010.
    2. John Jerrim, 2012. "The socio-economic gradient in teenagers' literacy skills: how does England compare to other countries?," DoQSS Working Papers 12-04, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    3. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jérémie Gignoux, 2014. "The Measurement of Educational Inequality: Achievement and Opportunity," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 210-246.
    4. Goldthorpe, John H. & McKnight, Abigail, 2004. "The economic basis of social class," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6312, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Giorgina Brown & John Micklewright & Sylke V. Schnepf & Robert Waldmann, 2007. "International surveys of educational achievement: how robust are the findings?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 623-646.
    6. John Jerrim & Anna Vignoles, 2013. "Social mobility, regression to the mean and the cognitive development of high ability children from disadvantaged homes," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(4), pages 887-906, October.
    7. John H Goldthorpe & Abigail McKnight, 2004. "The Economic Basis of Social Class," CASE Papers 080, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational policy; academic performance; PISA; PIRLS;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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