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Data in SocietyChallenging Statistics in an Age of Globalisation$
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Jeff Evans, Sally Ruane, and Humphrey Southall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447348214

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447348214.001.0001

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Adult skills surveys and transnational organisations: globalising educational policy

Adult skills surveys and transnational organisations: globalising educational policy

(p.65) 5 Adult skills surveys and transnational organisations: globalising educational policy
Data in Society

Jeff Evans

Policy Press

Organisations like OECD, IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) and the EU are increasingly involved in the production of transnational data. They function as key agencies for changing education and lifelong learning policy, promoting human capital approaches, and ‘governing by data’. I consider their growing role in assessing the efficiency of education and training systems. Particularly important in their organisational strategies are large-scale international performance surveys for school-age pupils, such as OECD’s PISA and IEA’s TIMSS. PISA for Development is addressing the problem that, in low income countries, not all 15 year olds can be surveyed at school. PIAAC, the Project for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, has so far reported results in 33 countries, in 2013 and 2016. It focuses on three domains considered basic for adults in industrial and ‘knowledge’ economies: namely, literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments, and on attitudes to and reported use of such skills. It uses electronic administration as a default, complex sampling designs, and statistical modelling to estimate the adult’s skill levels. I raise methodological issues relevant to the valid interpretation of such surveys and locate them in general policy developments, including globalisation.

Keywords:   International performance surveys, PIAAC, PISA, methodology, numeracy

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