A LEVER FOR IMPROVEMENT OR A MAGNET FOR BLAME? PRESS AND POLITICAL RESPONSES TO INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL RANKINGS IN FOUR EU COUNTRIES
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Special Issue: Symposium: Reform and Transition in Public Administration Theory and Practice in Greater China. Edited by Tsai-Tsu Su, Richard M. Walker and Lan Xue
Volume 91, Issue 2, pages 484–505, June 2013
How to Cite
DIXON, R., ARNDT, C., MULLERS, M., VAKKURI, J., ENGBLOM-PELKKALA, K. and HOOD, C. (2013), A LEVER FOR IMPROVEMENT OR A MAGNET FOR BLAME? PRESS AND POLITICAL RESPONSES TO INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL RANKINGS IN FOUR EU COUNTRIES. Public Administration, 91: 484–505. doi: 10.1111/padm.12013
- Issue published online: 13 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 30 JUN 2012
Educational performance rankings elicit extensive press coverage and varied political responses. To investigate how the negativity of press coverage was related to the rankings results and political response, we compared the domestic press coverage of two educational rankings (the 2006 editions of the OECD's Progress in Student Achievement (PISA) and the IEA's Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)) in four European countries (Germany, Finland, France, and Britain). We found negative press coverage in all four countries. Strikingly, Finland had the same percentage of negative articles as Germany, despite much better performance. British politicians received far more personal blame for poor results than their French or German counterparts, but the political response was strongest in Germany and Britain. We discuss our findings in the context of the effects such rankings might be expected to have, and argue that these rankings alone do not provide sufficient levers to improve educational performance.