What can we believe about international surveys?

Speakers: Dr Newman Burdett and Rebecca Wheater (NFER Centre for International Comparisons)
Date: 30 Jan 2013 Venue: Downing College Regent Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ
Type: Seminar Fee: Free to attend

International surveys such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, are gaining increasing leverage when countries come to review educational policy. The surveys undoubtedly give a powerful evidence base for educational decisions and help guide evidence-based policy, but like all tools they need to be wielded carefully and with understanding.

Speaking at a recent Network seminar, Dr Newman Burdett, Head of the NFER’s Centre for International Comparisons, called for contextualised interpretation of the complex data that comes from these surveys: "The surveys allow us to hold up a mirror at what we do educationally and see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. They are not about simple policy borrowing but looking at the wider context and using it to guide us where we want to be."

They are definitely not to be used as an "international Olympics" warned Dr Burdett, who also criticised the "simplistic conclusions" that the media has recently been making about the English education system.

According to Rebecca Wheater, National Project Manager for the OECD PISA 2012 survey in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the surveys produce easily accessible data which, if interpreted with great care and in appropriate contexts, can provide a strong impetus in driving educational agendas.

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Regent Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ