Futuribles Journal n° 410


Education: the Growing Impact of International Standards


The comparative educational studies carried out by various —public or private— international bodies have led to analyses and recommendations that have had an important influence on national or sub-national education policies. This is particularly the case with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among other things, the OECD publishes annual indicators and, every three years, the results of evaluations carried out as part of its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which has been profoundly influential in many countries. To which we should add, in the case of EU members, the studies and tools developed by the European Commission through its “Open Method of Coordination”.

In this article, Alain Michel analyses the extent to which the impact of PISA and European recommendations are leading to a certain homogenization of educational policies and curriculums (contents, objectives, modes of assessment, coordination…). He also asks how justified the criticism of the OECD is for its allegedly over-economistic vision of education, and examines the reality of the soft power that organization might be said to exert on national education policies —a power which is, admittedly, driving towards convergence, though without as yet actually standardizing educational systems.

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