Responding to the publication of the 2022 results of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“It takes a very opportunistic government to present the OECD’s depiction of a global crisis for education as a national success story. In England, as in nearly all countries entered in PISA, the impact of Covid means that students’ results in Reading, Maths and Science are lower than in 2018. The average fall in England is less sharp than in some other countries and as a result England’s league table position has improved slightly.
“Though there are questions surrounding the data, with the UK’s response rate being below the average, they give grounds for congratulating schools on their work during and after the pandemic. But this should not be the occasion for a fanfare: England’s schools have been sold short by their government for more than a decade. It is the evidence of that dismal record that policy-makers should now be scrutinising, rather than seeking crumbs of comfort from data which do not provide it.
“The OECD bears some responsibility for this elevation of spin above substance. Its research and policy-thinking is often serious and valuable. But the organisation really should think again about the way it publishes PISA test results. The technical detail of its report acknowledges the uncertainty of the scores it presents. But it proceeds nonetheless to display them in authoritative and misleading league table form.”