‘No education system can be better than its teachers’
In the world of international education, what Andreas Schleicher thinks matters. As a special adviser to the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, he has the attention of policymakers in the world’s wealthiest countries. As a leading figure behind the OECD’s annual review, “Education at a Glance,” and its Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which tests the literacy, mathematical competence and scientific knowledge of 15-year-olds around the world, he has changed the way countries think about what goes on in their classrooms.
How did you come to be a specialist in education?
My background is in physics. When I entered the OECD, it was still a foreign world to measure education. We put out “Education at a Glance” and then PISA in the year 2000 and that really received a strong recognition by governments—to look at the outcomes.
Presumably not everyone was pleased?
No. But I think everyone accepted it. Nobody’s pleased with every number. But PISA didn’t get contested in a way that people would have done with many other types of comparisons. That was the idea: to build a bulletproof instrument for evaluating education.
Which our work has done—it has limited the room for political arbitrariness. Education is a field which has been quite dominated by ideologies, from the classroom to public policy. And I think this work, first of all, it shows what’s possible. You can look at lots of countries who achieve what you don’t achieve. It has taken away excuses from those who
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