Pisa divides opinions

9th August 2013 at 01:00

Gerard Kelly's polemical editorial, "Pisa is not perfect but rankings are here to stay" (26 July), failed to inform readers that for more than 150 days, Pisa failed to provide any rebuttal of the conceptual (not technical) flaw in the Rasch model.

Mr Kelly's bizarre suggestion that the UK government should continue to use scarce taxpayers' funds to prop up Andreas Schleicher's empire will not fool those who have sought a full methodological debate within the international research community on the validity of inferences drawn from Pisa rankings.

The grandeur of Pisa has toppled. Amid the rubble, if only Mr Kelly had looked, are approaches to pedagogy that owe more to rhetoric and ideology than careful research and scholarship.

The first results from the OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis) advocate a pedagogy that has at its core the notion that students must be enabled to construct meaning for themselves. However, the world's largest education experiment - Project Follow Through in the US, which monitored the attainment of low-income children for 20 years from the late 1960s - identified the teaching methods advocated by Talis as locking disadvantaged children into a life of poverty.

Talis misconstrues the predicate "learn" exactly as Rasch misconstrues "ability". Without a robust challenge concerning Pisa's Rasch-generated plausible values, we risk a future OECD blueprint for "world-class teaching" that could damage the life chances of disadvantaged children across the world.

Stephen Elliott, Retired researcher, Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now