THE REAL IMPACT OF EVIDENCE ON EDUCATION REFORMS: SPAIN AS A CASE STUDY OF HOW TERRIBLY WRONG THINGS CAN GO
12th December 2023 : 17:30 - 18:30
Speaker: Montse Gomendio
Location: Department of Education - rooms K/L
Convener: Jo-Anne Baird
Audience: Department Staff and Students
PISA´s mission is policy oriented. Its aim is to evaluate student outcomes in different countries, in order to compare top and low performing education systems and identify policies among top performers which can help others improve. The survey has generated a vast amount of information which has been used to analyse in great detail education systems worldwide and to draw conclusions about which practices are associated with good student outcomes. However, PISA´s own data show that, after two decades, no improvement has taken place in most participating countries. Although PISA blames governments for this stagnation because it feels that they don’t listen to its advice, I argue that the reasons are much more complex. First, it is naive to argue that solid evidence per se is enough to overcome political costs. Second, most policy recommendations are strongly context-dependent making it difficult for governments to decide what is appropriate in their specific context. Third, the advice on equity is based mostly on “policy borrowing” from Nordic countries, and in particular Finland. This type of advice was followed blindly in Spain leading to the most inequitable outcomes. I will use this example to argue that education systems need to evolve as they mature, implementing different policies to adapt to changes in their student population, and that to copy/paste practices that are currently in place among top performing countries is the wrong approach.