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Title: Hong Kong's success in PISA : an analysis of local and international stakeholder perspectives
Author: Forestier, Katherine S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 0444
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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Beyond its borders, Hong Kong is among a group of East Asian cities or countries that have been identified as 'high-performing education systems' and 'models of good practice' by policymakers, international agencies and consultancies. This is because of their leading positions in the OECD's Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) league tables and other international assessments. As a result they have become 'reference systems' for others to learn from and emulate, reflected in new flows of educational transfer from East to West. This research investigates the nature and appropriateness of international educational transfer as informed by such assessments, through a case study focused on England's interest in its former colony, Hong Kong. It does this through analysis of policy documents and semi-structured interviews with policymakers and their advisors in England and with a range of stakeholders in the policy network in Hong Kong. In this study, I use multi-level qualitative analysis to compare and contrast perspectives on Hong Kong's performance in PISA held by those in the policy networks in the two jurisdictions. This includes perspectives on explanations 'for Hong Kong's success identified locally and internationally. I also consider the significance of the achievement in the wider context of the Hong Kong education system, which raises questions over the value Of PISA as a measure of quality and equity of education; claimed links between these measures and societies' future economic competitiveness; and the use and misuse of PISA for purposes of educational transfer. The gap between perspectives that are locally situated and those from afar suggests that important nuances involved in an education system and its wider context, as known and experienced locally, are lost in transmission of international assessments process and how it is used and manipulated by policymakers afar to inform and promote their education reforms. In this case study, English interest is identified as involving layers of interest used for purposes of policy rhetoric, policy reference and, to a limited extent, policy adoption and implementation. While perspectives do not prove causality behind Hong Kong's high scores, they are useful for shedding light on a complex mix of explanations, the limitations of the system masked by the PISA rhetoric overseas, and on features of the Hong Kong system that may be of value elsewhere. Locally situated perspectives suggest that PISA and similar comparative studies alone are not sufficient evidence to identify a 'high performing system'. Other comparative evidence is important, including multi-level qualitative research that captures multiple perspectives. The research contributes to improved understanding of the processes and pitfalls of educational transfer in the context of the increasing influence of PISA in education policymaking through a more nuanced understanding of the Hong Kong context and its potential value as a reference for other systems undergoing education reform.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available