Pisa stands for Programme for International Student Assessment. But judging from the reaction to the OECD rankings of educational attainment, it may as well mean Parental Index of Social Anxiety.
The latest analysis of the global league table showed that the 15-year-old children of Chinese janitors and street-sweepers were better at maths than the offspring of many other countries’ professionals and managers. The news added fuel to this week’s visit to Shanghai by a UK education minister, bent on finding the secret of local children’s success and replicating it at home.
But British concerns were reflected around the world, with telling local variants. Spain’s El Confidencial highlighted that Madrid’s teenagers were outperforming Catalonia’s. Corriere della Sera wondered why, against the grain of other countries, the children of Italian managers beat those of professionals, who have higher educational attainment. (If you will inherit the family law firm or accounting practice, you get lazy, suggested one OECD researcher).