Skip to content

Department of Education

Viewing archives for Centre for Educational Assessment

Professor Jo-Anne Baird, from the Department, has been appointed to an expert group on funding for educational research by the British Educational Research Association (BERA). The group, which is led by David James (Cardiff University and Chair of the REF 2021 panel) and working with the Academy of Social Sciences, will investigate and report on funding trends and their implications for the sector and key funders.

Jo-Anne, who is Director of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) said: “The Expert Group is convened to extend the work of the BERA The State of the Discipline project, to look specifically at the monies invested in educational research relative to UK expenditure on education. This is the first such BERA Expert Group that I have worked with and I am looking forward to analysing the data from HESA and REF sources.

“It is an important topic that I feel strongly about, as education is seen as crucial to society, yet funding for research is not prioritised by many bodies. We will be seeking to engage with key education funders about the outcomes of the work and, ultimately, to influence the level of funding for education research.”


Anil Kanjee is a Research Professor at the Tshwane University of Technology whose work focuses on addressing the challenge of equity and quality in education. He is the head of the Assessment and Learning Research Programme within the Faulty of Humanities, and coordinator of the Postgraduate Programme in the Department of Primary Education. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment, and at the Centre for International Teacher Education (Cape Peninsula University of Technology).

Currently he is supporting the Education Department and Teacher Unions to implement the national Assessment for Learning Pedagogical Strategy in South African schools. Previously, he was an Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council, where he headed the Centre for Education Quality Improvement. He has served as a technical advisor to education ministries in Africa and Asia, UNICEF, UNESCO, the United National Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, as well as to the Department of Basic Education, JET Education Services, UMALUSI and the National Educational Collaborative Trust

His areas of research focuses on:

  • Enhancing the use of classroom and large-scale assessments to improve learning for ALL.
  • Learner rights, learner voice and learning across schools in different poverty quintiles.
  • Developing models of teacher professional development to address equity gaps in schools.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of education systems, programmes and projects.
  • Application of Item response theory for enhancing the reporting of assessment results.

A series of newly released reports have revealed today that students in the UK score above the international average in mathematics, reading and science.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading and science of 15-year-old students in countries around the world and results from the 2022 round have today been revealed. PISA is run internationally by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and delivered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by Pearson with scores  analysed by the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education.

The University of Oxford Department of Education-led report shows that scores in maths, reading and science in the UK remain above the international average. Across the 81 education systems measured by the OECD globally, science scores remained similar to 2018, but scores in mathematics and reading dropped. This was reflected in the results of England and Northern Ireland, with science scores staying stable, and mathematics and reading scores declining. In Wales, average scores in all three subjects dropped from 2018.

Professor Jenni Ingram, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen to analyse these vital scores, working closely with Pearson. Having a benchmark to see how students in the UK are doing compared to the rest of the world helps us to see how our education systems are working. It’s great that we remain above average in the UK in a number of areas. Using these results, we can see where the relative strengths and areas for development are in students’ performance and seek to have an impact on policy and practice for improvement.”

Professor Grace Grima, Director of Research at Pearson, said: “Thank you to all the students and schools who took part in PISA 2022. It’s a credit to teachers and support staff across England that PISA scores in maths, reading and science in England remain above the international average.”

“We’re proud to have contributed our considerable experience in education towards the successful completion of PISA 2022, alongside Oxford University. Our operational know-how and high-quality delivery – from large international projects also including PIRLS and TIMSS – has been the perfect partnership with Oxford’s internationally-renowned research expertise.”

As with previous PISA cycles, the highest performing education systems worldwide tended to be in East Asia, with Singapore significantly outperforming all other education systems in all subjects. Japan, Taiwan, Macao and South Korea were also among the top performing systems for all three subject domains.

Gender differences in PISA 2022 were consistent across the nations of the UK, with boys having a higher average score for mathematics and girls having a higher average score for reading.

Students from relatively disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds performed significantly worse than those from relatively less disadvantaged backgrounds across all three subjects and UK nations, in line with international trends. The gap in performance between students from the most and least disadvantaged backgrounds was smaller in Wales than it was on average across OECD countries for all subjects. This was also true of Northern Ireland for mathematics and reading.

The full reports for England, Northern Ireland and Wales can be found on the following websites: Department for Education (England), Department of Education (Northern Ireland), Welsh Government (Wales) in English and Cymraeg.

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.

Join us to learn how to build assessment expertise through our Masters in Educational Assessment.  Hear about the course content and ethos, and the experiences of our students.  This event is for individuals who may be interested in learning more about assessment and organisations looking to strengthen the expertise of their workforce.

‘AI in Education’ is Britain’s first, and a globally pioneering, cross-sector body committed to ensuring AI benefits everyone involved in education – from students (especially the most vulnerable), teachers and governors to parents and the wider society.

Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) sits on the Advisory Panel, which is made up of leading figures from academic life, universities and UK tech companies. The Panel will scrutinise and recommend technical pathways and products to the expert panel for trial and evaluation in schools.

Professor Baird said: “Generative AI has been a game-changer and we are about to witness its impact on education and assessment.  I am pleased to be working on this important initiative which will look strategically at the needs of education coming before the technology.”

AI in Education launched this week with a website offering advice, resources and case studies for those working in all educational settings.

A new, open-access book was launched at the British Educational Research Association conference this week, on the state of teach education.

Professor Jo-Anne Baird‘s chapter, on policy negotations in initial teacher education addresses what is at stake, why teacher education matters and how the education sector in England tried to influence teacher education policy to build on the research evidence.  Only days after its launch, the book has had hundreds of downloads.

The education system is not the same as before the pandemic.  We need policies that address the current situation if we are to improve standards. Professor Jo-Anne Baird (Director of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment) speaks to The Today programme.

Listen here:

Jamie Stiff and colleagues have looked at the 221 academic publications on the Progress in International Reading Study, the world’s largest reading assessment.  They found that:

  • Most articles used PIRLS data for secondary data analysis.
  • Research related to attainment gaps has increased since 2015.
  • 20% of articles were critiques of PIRLS constructs and/or procedures.
  • PIRLS remains underutilised for researching reading literacy.

The full article can be found here:

Stiff, J., Lenkeit, J., Hopfenbeck, T.N., Kayton, H. and McGrane, J.A. (2023) Research engagement in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 40.