23 SES 01 A, Globalisation, Markets, Performance
Parallel Paper Session
This paper examines the place of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Education Directorate in the changing education work of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It focuses on the enhanced global influence of PISA and the OECD in education, in relation to processes of Europeanisation and globalisation more broadly. The paper is structured around two main research questions.
The first section responds to the question: How is the scope of PISA increasing both conceptually and politically, and with what consequences in terms of its reach, influence and effects? This section examines the enhanced positioning of education and educational data in the overall work of the OECD and the rise of governance through comparison in education across multiple scales. We consider plans to extend the focus of PISA to a broader set of skills, including collaborative problem solving competencies, and its supplementation with complementary testing regimes, such as the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIACC) and the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) programme.
The second section responds to the question: How has the extension of PISA over time and space increased its influence in national/transnational policy making, and with what effects for the influence of the OECD in education globally? This section examines the increasing explanatory power of PISA, as its implementation extends in terms of both time and space. PISA is being implemented in a growing number of national systems, including China and India, and has been conducted multiple times in many participating countries, with more participants coming on board for 2012. Interrelations between changing national policy contexts and PISA performance are increasingly able to be analysed, both in terms of changing levels of performance over different iterations of PISA testing and the effects of PISA outcomes on national education debates and reforms. Comparative performance on PISA has become a central driver of education policy making at the national level, while increased participation is contributing significantly to the constitution of an emergent global education policy field, the creation of new reference societies in education and new modes of policy borrowing.
The primary focus is on the work of the OECD, but the role of PISA in specific national contexts will also be considered to exemplify our arguments. The paper examines national contexts in Europe (e.g. England, Scotland, Finland and Germany) to contribute to debates about how the OECD, in conjunction with UNESCO, Eurostat and the World Bank, is producing a commensurate supranational European space through comparative measurement and the alignment of statistical categories and data. National contexts such as Japan, Australia and China will also be considered. The paper’s theoretical framework draws from Saskia Sassen’s (2011) work, and other cognate literature on the sociology of globalization, to focus on how measures such as PISA help to constitute the space of the global through the creation of a transnational measurement infrastructure.
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