The Reception of the PISA Report in Hungary

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This is the executive summary of the Hungarian Team`s Report on the PISA-reception in Hungary.

The Report was prepared as a part of a collaborative effort of six European countries’ research teams within the Know&Pol research project’s comparative inquiry and aimed at understanding PISA`s influence on the Hungarian educational policy making. The fieldwork for the study was done between April 2008 and March 2009 in which 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with key decision-makers, experts and technical coordinators, and a document analysis of scientific and popular media publications (of the period between 2001 and 2008) was carried out as well. The Report deals with the social mapping and institutional structure related to PISA, as well as it gives profiles of the main actors, explains the formal structures and the informal relations. The entrance of Hungary in the PISA project is also presented and details are offered about the characteristics of the country’s participation at the supranational level. The analysis of the policy debate explains how the allegedly poor Hungarian PISA results were mostly interpreted along the lines of the two main concepts of quality of content and equity. It also gives an insight into how these concepts formed the educational policy discourse and were translated into policy solutions.

The report draws several conclusions. One of them is that instead of a shock the Hungarian reception of this soft regulation tool can be best classified as being somewhere between scandalization and indifference (Steiner-Khamsi, 2003). The survey on one hand worked as a strong focusing event, forging together already existing discourses in educational policy and an on the other hand, as an empty container which provided a powerful argument of legitimacy for a broad range of issues. Its clearest and most easily identifiable impact though is in the fabrication of the national competence based test, the "ABC" (Assessment of Basic Competences).

BAJOMI Iván, BERÉNYI Eszter, NEUMANN Eszter & VIDA Júlia (2009), The Reception of PISA in Hungary, KNOWandPOL report.

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  • STEINER-KHAMSI G. (2003), The Politics of League Tables, Journal of Social Science Education, 1, http://www.jsse.org/2003-1/tables_khamsi.htm.

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