What PISA Intends To and Can Possibly Achieve: A Critical Programme Theory Analysis

May. 15, 2014

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 13 Number 2 2014, pages 167‑180.

The purpose of this article is to analyse the assumptions regarding how the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is to achieve its intended effects, that is, to reconstruct PISA’s programme theory (PT) and to probe the validity of its underlying assumptions.

The article demonstrates that PISA’s PT has low internal validity.
However, some PISA assumptions are consistent, for example, the assumption that legitimisation activities justify PISA as a transnational benchmarking system measuring education system performance.

PISA exemplifies systemic evaluation governance: all actors in the field are expected to use PISA results to react to and reflect on their own practice, compare themselves with others, and then act accordingly to improve education systems and school practice, though no activities or resources are allocated to change school practice.

Updated: Oct. 21, 2014