International statistical comparisons of nations have become commonplace in the contemporary landscape of education policy and social science. This book discusses the emergence of these international comparisons as a particular style of reasoning about education, society and science. By examining how international educational assessments have come to dominate much of contemporary policymaking concerning school system performance, the authors provide concrete case studies highlighting the preeminent role of numbers in furthering neoliberal education reform. Demonstrating how numbers serve as ‘rationales’ to shape and fashion social issues, this text opens new avenues for thinking about institutional and epistemological factors that produce and shape educational policy, research and schooling in transnational contexts.

chapter 1|20 pages

Getting the Numbers Right

An Introduction

section I|51 pages


chapter 2|12 pages

Politics by the Numbers

chapter 3|18 pages

On the Contest of Lists and Their Governing Capacities

How ‘Tax Havens’ Became ‘Secrecy Jurisdictions’

chapter 4|15 pages

Time, Drawing, Testing

The Making Up of the Developmental Child and the Measuring of the Nation’s Development

section II|74 pages

The Field of Making of Data

chapter 6|17 pages

Producing the ‘Right Kind of People’

The OECD Education Indicators in the 1960s

chapter 7|18 pages


Normative, Interpretative, and Performative

section III|54 pages

Large-Scale Assessment as the Production of Numbers

chapter 10|17 pages

PISA as a Social Media Event

Powering the ‘Logics of Competition’

chapter 11|19 pages

Who Governs the Numbers?

The Framing of Educational Knowledge by TIMSS Research

chapter 12|16 pages

OECD as a Site of Coproduction

The European Education Governance and the New Politics of ‘Policy Mobilization’ 1

section IV|38 pages

The Dissolution of the Science/Society Distinction

chapter 14|17 pages

Anticipating the Future Society

The Cultural Inscription of Numbers and International Large-Scale Assessment 1