Education reform is increasingly portrayed as a means to improve a nation's global competitiveness as measured by its performance in international league tables of pupil achievement. This has created a demand for comparative research which identifies 'what works' in high-performing school systems. A diverse array of consultancies, thinks tanks, and entrepreneurs has emerged to satisfy that demand, portraying their approach as a pragmatic and objective form of evidence-based policy-making. However, the attempt to translate complex conditions into straightforward solutions (i.e. 'what works') leads researchers into a basic paradox. This paper identifies the strategies used to address this paradox and to advocate reforms. We demonstrate that, though they are persuasive, the strategies fundamentally fail to overcome the problems inherent in the enterprise. Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis.
Bibliographical noteAuld, E., & Morris, P. (2016). PISA, policy and persuasion: translating complex conditions into education 'best practice'. Comparative Education, 52(2), 202-229. doi: 10.1080/03050068.2016.1143278
- 'What works'
- 'Best practice'