Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Education policy should not be driven by performance data


Performance data is dominating education policy, with many researchers and policymakers convinced that a data-based approach results in improved performance. The implications of this should be questioned by the research community to promote debate and consideration of choices excluded by data dependency.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Ranking by PISA math score and perceived entrepreneurial capacity.


  1. Molla, T. in Governing Knowledge: Comparison, Knowledge-based Technologies and Expertise in the Regulation of Education (eds Fenwick, T., Mangez, E. & Ozga, J. ) 75–86 (World Yearbook of Education 2014, Routledge, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Piattoeva, N. J. Educ. Policy 30, 316–334 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Finn, M. Cult. Geogr. 23, 29–49 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Koyama, J. & Menken, K. Biling. Res. J. 36, 82–99 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Selwyn, N. Learn. Media Technol. 40, 64–82 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Lawn, M. & Ozga, J. The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters: Data and Education Governance in England CES Briefing No. 52 (Centre for Educational Sociology, 2009).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Grek, S. & Lindgren, J. (eds) Governing by Inspection (Routledge, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Carvalho, L. M. EERJ 11, 172–189 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Carney, S., Rapplye, J. & Silova, I. Comp. Educ. Rev. 56, 366–393 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Ozga, J., Dahler-Larsen, P., Segerholm, C., Simola, H. (eds) Fabricating Quality in Education: Data and Governance in Europe (Routledge, 2011).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  11. Zhao, Y. World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (Corwin, 2012).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jenny Ozga.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ozga, J. Education policy should not be driven by performance data. Nat Hum Behav 1, 0014 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing