Well, this week the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of its world-famous study, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 2012. The release of this data causes flurry of activity and commentary in the educational world because this data ranks nations against each other in student performance across various academic disciplines.
Now, before I comment on what the analysis means for the United States, I’d like to shed some light on who OECD is and why we have to take their results and framing with a grain of salt. The organization is an offshoot of the Marshall Plan, the package of economic aid offered by the United States to Europe after WWII, with the hope of protecting markets from communism, which was thought to be looming from the then-Soviet Union.
The goals of the Marshall Plan were to, “…rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again,” which sounds suspiciously like NAFTA and the new ominous TPP, doesn’t it?
The point I’m making by shedding light on the roots of OECD and the attention they pay to test scores around the world is simply that they are yet another entity that regurgitates data to serve the “free market,” or my new favorite term, “casino capitalism” (h/t Dr. Henry Giroux). We have to take any of these data results with a grain of salt; still, they can be an indicator of what’s happening in our classrooms. But just an indicator. Don’t get carried away and start closing schools with this stuff…
Long story short,