Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by Ofqual (E 65)

At the evidence session at which Ofqual appeared on Tuesday 1 March 2011 you asked me about international comparisons, particularly PISA tables. There was a year in which the United Kingdom was excluded because we did not meet the sample level. You specifically asked

'Am I right in saying that that was the year 2001, which the Secretary of State uses as the point of comparison?' 

I can confirm that results from the United Kingdom were excluded from the PISA 2003 comparison tables. Data for England did not comply with the response rate standards. The OECD countries had established such response rate standards to ensure that PISA produces reliable and internationally comparable data. 

According to the PISA 2003 Technical report:

"Problems relating to response rate and testing window were identified for the data from the United Kingdom. A poor school response rate resulted in an extension of the three-month testing window, which is required by the PISA technical standards. After the extension of the testing window, the school response rate (64.32 per cent prior to replacements and 77.37 per cent after replacements) and student response rates (77.92 per cent) were still below PISA standards."

In this same year, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States and the partner country Serbia, also had exclusion rates higher than 5 per cent.

March 2011