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A new book from Symposium problematizes the development of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and its role as an institution-building force in global education. The book questions the presumption that the quality of a nation’s school system can be evaluated through a standardized assessment that is insensitive to the world’s vast cultural and institutional diversity. In this way, the book develops many of the themes highlighted in the recent workshop held at the 2013 EIPPEE conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

This workshop argued that international large-scale educational assessments (LSAs) like PISA are characterized by complex sample methods and cross-sectional designs. Consequently, any recommendations for policy and practice have to be made with caution. For example, LSA are inadequate to draw causal conclusions (e.g. “more autonomy to schools will result in higher student achievement”). Users of LSAs must make sure of not over-interpreting the results of their analyses and/or drawing over-simplistic conclusions that lead to policy borrowing/lending processes. 

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