Is the Grass always Greener? The Effect of the PISA Results on Education Debates in Sweden and Germany

Jul. 15, 2010

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 3, p. 422‑430. (2010).

What does a country do when its schools and educational system in general do not produce the results the country believes they are capable of?

The current article describes the political debates that comparative international studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment have given rise to in Germany and Sweden.

As a result of the assessments, both countries have gone outside their borders in order to find new models and policy norms. The article analyzes whether or not the debate on educational policy in the two countries plays a role in policy borrowing.

Germany looks to the north, primarily to Sweden – the country at the forefront of pedagogy – but also to Finland.

At the same time, Sweden is in the process of dismantling just those parts of its educational policy that have aroused interest and admiration in other countries, especially Germany. Instead, it is investing in individual solutions, elite education and apprentice systems.
Through the use of public funds, Sweden has gone from having one of the industrialized West’s most centralized educational systems to one of its most decentralized and privatized.

Accordingly, the authors pose the following questions: Who is learning from whom? And is the grass always greener on the other side?

Updated: Jan. 25, 2011