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Media analysis of PISA 2015 results: A comparative study of East Asian top performers

Pizmony-Levy, Oren; Green Saraisky, Nancy; Katsumoto, Shinji; Hu, Zi; Jiang, Xue; Choi, Eunjee

These four presentations were delivered at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in Atlanta, Georgia. The panel, titled "Media analysis of PISA 2015 results: A comparative study of East Asian top performers" was chaired by Dr. Nancy Green Saraisky (Teachers College, Columbia University). It was one of two Highlighted Paper Sessions sponsored by the CIES Large-Scale Cross National Studies SIG.

Objective: This panel will present an analysis of media discourse about the results of the 2015 administration of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA is administered every three years to 15-year old students on three subjects: math literacy, science literacy, and reading literacy. In PISA, East Asian countries have consistently shown high performance (OECD, 2014). Specifically, the panel will focus on four East Asian countries: Japan, Shanghai (China), South Korea, and Taiwan. As close neighbors and consistent high-achievers in international assessments, these countries and their education systems have received heightened interest from across the world in recent decades. Researchers are interested in the attributes to these students' high performance and the similarities and differences between these systems. More importantly, pertaining to our analysis, how do the media in these countries view these assessments and their students' performance respectively? Following individual analysis in each country, a final comparative analysis will discuss differences and similarities in media discourse across all countries.

Perspective: International large-scale assessments (ILSAs) have attracted increasing public attention in the past two decades. Recent studies suggest that the release of ILSAs' results and rankings triggers the public discussion on education systems (Howie and Plomp, 2005). While the public has free access to the result reports published by the organizations that administer ILSAs, these reports are often written with difficult, technical vocabularies that are not widely accessible by the public. Instead, the media, thanks to its high accessibility, becomes the main channel for people to consume the results of ILSAs (Pizmony-Levy, 2016). Consequently, the media can exercise a significant influence on the formation of public opinion toward their education systems (Luhmann, 2000). In other words, the way in which the media interpret and present the results of ILSAs can shape how the public, who follow the media, view the results.

Method: All papers employ the same protocol method for media analysis, which was developed by Pizmony-Levy (2013). For each country, we will collect and analyze the content of 10–15 newspaper articles published within the first week of the release of the PISA 2015 results. We examine the tone of each article (e.g. scandalization, glorification, or neutral) concerning the results, reference of other countries’ performance, explanation of possible causes of the results, and implication of the results. Additionally, we analyze what messages the articles are sending out, how articles compare the results across countries, and what speakers they cite (e.g., professors, teachers, secretary of education).

Results: The analysis will be conducted after the results of PISA 2015 are disclosed on December 6, 2016. However, we have had experience in conducting this protocol analysis for articles on PISA 2012. We are prepared to handle and accomplish the study.

Significance: Analysis of the media coverage of PISA results allows us to examine the dynamic mechanisms within the “black box” between international assessments and local education discourse. What roles do international assessments play in the local contexts? How are the international assessments affecting public opinions and local education policies?

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - Chinese Taipei.pdf Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - Chinese Taipei.pdf application/pdf 182 KB Download File
  • thumnail for Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - South Korea.pdf Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - South Korea.pdf application/pdf 747 KB Download File
  • thumnail for Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - Japan.pdf Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - Japan.pdf application/pdf 2.41 MB Download File
  • thumnail for Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - China.pdf Media Analysis of PISA 2015 Results - China.pdf application/pdf 1.89 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
International and Transcultural Studies
Published Here
July 8, 2019
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