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University challenge

Pisa's director said the main message for the UK, likely to be confirmed by the Scottish figures, is that it comes out top in terms of university attainment, but has had mixed success in expanding "baseline qualifications" at upper secondary level - it lies in 22nd place. Andreas Schleicher stressed that information from assessment is essential to feedback on school performance because of the dynamic changes that are taking place worldwide. In upper secondary qualifications, the UK was in 13th place a generation ago and Korea was 24th; now the UK comes 22nd while Korea is first.

He warned, however, that assessment should be about countries planning where they want to be in the future on the basis of the information it provided. His parting motto was: "Remember, without data you are just another person with an opinion."

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