PISA as a legitimacy tool during China's education reform: Case study of Shanghai
In this paper we examine the Chinese domestic discourse centering on Shanghai's participation in the PISA study and interpretations of the 2009 results. The main focus is to examine why local education authority took part in the PISA project and how actors from the education authority use PISA as a tool to legitimize their reform stance. We adopted discourse and rhetorical analysis techniques and analyzed the data collected from newspapers and official documents. The analysis shows that the local education authority and PISA team used PISA as an external assessment tool to legitimate the pre-existing education reform measures, confirm its leadership, and appeal for the collective actions from other social groups in future reform agenda. Different interpretations of the test results by independent educators and overseas professors are demonstrated to contrast officials' framings and shed light on the rationales behind these framings. This study contributes to the theoretical discussion of how local actors use PISA to respond to domestic and international pressures on education reform and at the same time pursue local political interests.
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