Pisa Results

Russell Haggar

Site Owner

Pisa Test Results 2022  [Published December 2023]

Click here for PISA 2022: national report for England

You may click here for BBC coverage of the PISA 2022 results were published on December 5th 2023 and here for some further analysis from the TES. The headline results were as follows.

England outperformed Scotland, Northern Ireland and especially Wales which performed badly in the tests and English test scores were also significantly above the OECD average in all three subjects.

[ Note However that Professor John Jerrim has written that the Welsh results may not have been as bad as thy seemed!]

England’s rankings improved from  13th to 14th in Reading and from 17th to 11th in Mathematics. In Science the England ranking was 14th , with no change since 2018 .

However mainly because of the COVID 19pandemic  the actual test marks received in almost all countries  including England  fell so that England’s rise in the rankings occurred because its decline in marks awarded was smaller  than in many other countries. Thus,  England’s marks fell between 2018 and 2022 from 505 to 496 in Reading, from 504 to 492 in Mathematics and from  505 to 503 in Science.

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan  emphasised the improvement in England’s rankings in English and mathematics rather than the decline in marks awarded as did Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Prime Ministers Question time whereas Shadow Secretary of State Bridget Phillipson emphasised the declines in marks awarded rather than the improvement in English rankings in  Reading and Mathematics.

Analysts made several more detailed points.

The Schools Week magazine points out the PISA has suggested that English test results in Mathematics and Reading  could be 7 0r 8 points higher than they should be as indicated in the following extract.

“Around one in three schools and one in four pupils overall refused to take part in the study – meaning that England’s response rate fell below the PISA sample standards. For England, this meant that “higher performing pupils may be overrepresented” and some results “may therefore be somewhat higher than they might otherwise be”. England was not alone: other countries including the United States and China fell below the standards. But the OECD makes no adjustments to the scores when such standards are not met. PISA estimates that this means England’s maths and reading scores could be 7 or 8 points higher than they should be.

This makes quite a difference. For instance, it would knock England into the group currently classed as countries that “scored significantly lower than England” in maths and reading! (although this is obviously not including potential points downgrades for other countries similarly affected).”

FFT Education Data Lab point out that  UK tests were taken  In December 2022 whereas in most other countries the tests were taken in May 2022 which  gave UK schools longer to recover from the effects  of Covid 19 which may have inflated UK test results.

It is true that English ranking in Mathematics and Reading have improved but  several other countries’ test scores results are clustered around the English test scores results  so that the differences in test scores should  not be regarded as statistically significant as pointed out in this item from the TES.

It is argued also that PISA test results are narrowly focussed and should not be used to assess the usefulness of actual school curricula which are more broadly based and that if and when a country’s test scores and/or its  rankings do improve this cannot necessarily be seen as proving the effectiveness of government education policies.