Jens Naumann

TIMSS, PISA, IGLU und das untere Leistungsspektrum in der Weltgesellschaft1


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So far, the discussion about the meaning and relevance of the results of the latest wave of (high quality, advanced) internationally comparative empirical competence surveys in the IEA-tradition (TIMSS, PISA, PIRLS) has been heavily biased in favor of the small group of rich, industrialized OECDcountries and – among them – the even smaller group of countries with medium to top average competence levels. However, the surveys also include a number of non-European, non-OECD, poorer countries and their number is scheduled to increase in future survey rounds. This article draws attention to the fact that most of the poor and middle-income countries exhibit rather poor to extremely poor average competence levels, with large minorities (if not majorities) of their pupils performing (often much) below the analytically accepted minimum ‘competence level I’. It is argued that – based on increasing empirical evidence from many technically less sophisticated, but still similar studies – these poor to very poor results are typical for the pupils in most poorer countries of the world. The article discusses some major theoretical, conceptual, analytical and political problems of accommodating this discomforting finding against the background of some important paradigms of the educational and social sciences orienting educational and development policies (especially so: ‘propoor- strategies’). In particular, it is argued that – with regard to learning outcomes/school-based competence achievements the crucial link between ‘language of instruction’ and ‘language of origin’ of the pupils has not been sufficiently taken into account, both in research and in politics and practice; – while international educational cooperation and development aid has been important in influencing the emergence of the modern world-system (in education as much as in any other realm), its structural organization remains poor and its level of intensity is disturbingly uneven (much too low on average), especially so with regard to ‘Education-for-all’/pro-poor-strategies.