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This paper examines the outstanding performance of Shanghai, China on PISA 2009 and its effects on other national systems and within the global education policy field. The OECD's PISA is helping to create this field by constituting the globe as a commensurate space of school system performance. The effects of Shanghai's success are considered in three other national contexts: the USA, England and Australia. We combine (a) analysis of data from more than 30 research interviews with senior policy actors at the OECD, the IEA and within Australia and England; and (b) document analysis of policy speeches, commissioned research reports and media coverage from the three national contexts. Shanghai's performance in PISA 2009 produced a global ‘PISA-shock’ that has repositioned this system as a significant new ‘reference society’, shifting the global gaze in education from Finland to the ‘East’ at the beginning of the so-called ‘Asian century’.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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