Understanding PISA

Stephen DOWNES

The headline was dramatic enough to cause a ripple in the reading public. "Students who use computers a lot at school have worse maths and reading performance," noted the BBC news article, citing a 2004 study by Ludger Woessmann and Thomas Fuchs (Fuchs and Woessman, 2004). It was not long before the blogosphere took notice. Taking the theme and running with it, Alice and Bill ask, "Computers Make School Kids Dumber?" They theorize, "If you track the admitted decline of education, you'll probably notice that it follows along with the increase of technology in the classroom." In a similar vein, James Bartholomew asks, "Do you think that the government will turn down the volume of its boasting about how it has spent billions introducing computers in schools (while keeping down the pay of teachers so much that there are shortages)? Do you think it will stop sending governors of state schools glossy pamphlets about insisting that computers are used in their schools as much as possible?" In this study, therefore, PISA looks well beyond educational attainment, and also includes school demographics, such as whether it is a public or private school, has large or small classes, or has access or not to technological resources. Finally, it does measure student information-their family background, access to books and computers and parental support as well. The PISA survey departs from previous surveys in disregarding the stated curricula of the schools being measured. Therefore, the conclusion is not surprising, nor even wrong for him to consider independently of any parental or teacher support, considered without reference to the software running on it, considered without reference to student attitudes and interests, does not positively impact an education. Finally, he focus on missing the reporting of results

KEYWORDS: PISA, Impact of Education, Computers in Schools, Student Use Computer