Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PISA Under Examination: Ulf P. Lundgren's Keynote Speech

Ulf P. Lundgren gave a keynote speech entitled "PISA as a Political Instrument: the history behind formulating the PISA Programme"

Ulf P. Lundgren is a Professor of Policy and Philosophy of Education at the University of Uppsala and the Director-General of the National Agency of Education in Sweden.

The notes from his speech are as follows:

The history behind PISA has two interpretations:
  1. a short history
  2. reforms in policy followed Zeitgeist, the changes in society
PISA really started in the 1980s.

Educational measurement began in the 19th century. In 1862, England began assessment and inspection related to outcomes. The measurement related to intelligence testing, along with educational and psychological testing.

Education is important for society and individuals. For individuals, education is a link to a new life. Education also has a link to the labor market. The modern evaluation is a social context where everything could be questioned.

Assessment techniques developed. The international Examination Inquiry of the 1930s formed an international network of assessment, but few with comparative ambitions.

In 1957, Sputnik occurred, and President John F. Kennedy announced that a US man must be first on the moon. The "space race" tied in education to space outcomes.

The IEA was founded officially in 1967 and began comparative study. International comparisons became features on political agendae and international comparativeness was born. Human capital theory was established.

The 1970s oil crisis increased international competition. International assessments became more important, and international assessments were seen as tools for educational improvements.

The Cambridge manifesto in 1972, which encouraged broader methods of educational research (including qualitative research) paralleled the 1970s trend which attacked school systems and statistics in education.

In the 1980s, the Welfare Society came under attack. New policies were implemented. Globalization gave new solutions, such as decentralization and marketization of schools.

In the US and UK there was a decentralization of policy, but a centralization of inspection.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and in 1992, the USSR ended, which marked the end of the Cold War. Competition was not about domination. A new context for competition began: economic. ICT began to emerge. Teachers began to be seen as professionals.

International assessments have changed its context over time.

In 1968, the OECD's Centre for Education Research and Innovation (CERI) was started. In the 1980s, the OECD's INES, the education indicators program began. Statistics began to impact upon education policy.

INES built up connections and networks in different countries. In 1992, Education at a Glance was born. However, there were problems in finding outcome data. At the time there were only the IEA studies.

Tom Alexander of CERI said the OECD needed a new program, as there were validity problems with the IEA studies. They wanted a test that was "content free." ETS (Educational Testing Service) created a broad literacy concept test. Statistics Canada handled the design and data collection.

From this came PISA, first administered in 2000, and with those results released in 2001.

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