Educational performance or educational inequality: what can we learn from PISA about France and England?

Other title(s): Educational performance or educational inequality: what can we learn from PISA about France and England?

Author(s): Doyle, Ann

Date: 2008

Pages: p. 205-217

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This article evaluates PISA 2000 as a resource for providing information on educational attainment and inequality, focusing on France and England. Going beyond pupils' performance, it assesses levels of educational inequality by examining distributions of scores and the relationship between socio-economic status and performance. This review raises methodological issues which could hamper the comparison of performance. The prioritising of 'skills for life' over curriculum-based questions, together with PISA's sampling on the basis of pupils' age rather than their class/grade, works to the advantage of the English performance. The issue of low response rates in England is also raised and care is urged with regard to ranking the performance of France and England on the basis of these results. The article concludes that as a tool for comparing average performance PISA has drawbacks, but for assessing levels of inequality it is a useful resource.

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