Strength in numbers

John De Jong, Dec 22, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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So what's the link between Pearson and the PISA assessments? I don't know either, but after reading this odd post I begin to suspect there is one. Why is it odd? Well, first, it conflates the emergence of the World Wide Web with a political campaign, saying (erroneously) that they both "show the power of a shared ambition and a collective approach." The web is exactly the opposite of a "collective" approach; each site is developed independently, the only links between them being, well, links. So why this odd definition of "collective"? Because the author thinks it applies to PISA as well. "Every three years around 70 countries volunteer to take part in PISA, which looks at the skills and knowledge of 15 year olds." Well, yes, but they don't represent any sort of collective effort (otherwise we'd see Americans involved in the testing of Chinese students, and vice versa). And the respective countries don't share common goals. It's unlikely even that they share the definition of "skills and knowledge" imposed on them by PISA (because otherwise national curricula would reflect these same topics, which they do not). Since I presume that the author knows better than to make such facile comparisons, I conclude they are deliberate, which makes me suspect something is up.

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