Education International
Education International

PISA: Quality teacher workforce is key

published 5 December 2013 updated 9 December 2013

Speaking about what educators can take away from the recently published PISA results, the OECD’s Head of Early Childhood Education and Schools, Michael Davidson, has highlighted that where the teaching profession is held in high esteem, the positive impact on effective learning is inevitable.

Davidson also stressed that PISA showed that the quality of the teaching workforce is key to achieve improvements. He especially focused on the fact that where more autonomy was given to schools and a collaborative environment prevailed, more opportunities for teachers to positively influence teaching and learning practices presented themselves. Where there is collective ownership of the quality of schools, he stressed, performance tends to benefit from it.

Davidson also warned against too strong a focus on league tables only. The richness of PISA to support policy development doesn’t come from league tables, he said. In addition, while reading, maths and science can be seen as core skills and competencies, it should be avoided to use them as a measure of the performance of systems as a whole.

Watch the complete interview with Michael Davidson by John Bangs, EI Senior Consultant.

The points made by Michael Davidson echo what EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen has written in an opinion piece for the Times Educational Supplement. “Many of PISA’s findings enhance what teachers know to be good for their schools. PISA makes it absolutely clear that no education system can be successful without a confident, high-quality teaching profession”, van Leeuwen writes.

Van Leeuwen also draws the attention to issues that the teaching profession finds more difficult about PISA. He cites the use of rankings and league tables of countries, which can be misleading and be perceived as unfair. Another point is that performance is defined by mainly by three literacies: numeracy, reading and science, which falls short of capturing the whole wealth of education systems.

Despite these issues, van Leeuwen points out which benefit the results have. For teachers and their unions, the evidence from PISA creates the opportunity to make governments understand that education will not be successful without the voice of the teaching profession at its centre, he writes.To read Fred van Leeuwen’s full article, please follow this link: