This is the first comprehensive examination of OECD’s PISA surveys and policy recommendations by insiders that go beyond the ideological battles and mainstream narratives of ‘what works’ to improve our failing education systems. The book is extremely well argued and substantiated with a vast amount of evidence and, without a doubt, will be a critical source for those concerned about the present and future status of education systems not only of the OECD countries but also low-income countries.
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
From my own experience as an educational scholar in Malaysia, I suspect that many of the book’s insights will resonate with, as well as challenge and surprise interested readers. The book is an engaging read, achieving that oft-elusive balance between (academic) rigour and accessibility. [...] I felt that I benefited most from Chapter 3, on the governance of education systems, where the authors’ close analysis of governance arrangements—the distribution of power and responsibilities between levels of government, financial incentives, etc.—was eye-opening and incisive. In particular, I appreciated the authors’ nuanced intervention in the centralising vs. decentralising education debate, which will no doubt be of interest to many. [...] Chapter 6 then allows the reader to view the task of reform through the prism of front-line policymaking. While framed as the authors’ personal anecdote, this chapter nonetheless vividly illustrates the complex interplay between politics and policy, including the roles of political parties, the media and PISA. It is a sobering account of the political realities of education reform, conflicts of (vested) interests, and the questionable role of non-state actors like PISA.[...] Dire Straits deserves a wide readership, particularly with educationists outside academia, and is essential reading for university courses in comparative education and education policy.
Ngee Derk Tiong
Educational Review, 2023. doi:10.1080/00131911.2023.2252704
A blog post by authors Montserrat Gomendio and José Ignacio Wert on the book 'Dire Straits-Education Reforms: Ideology, Vested Interests and Evidence'
With so much evidence from student testing, why do education systems continue to struggle? Read this article by author Montse Gomendio