UK was sixth behind Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, second in Europe and second in the Western world according to analysis by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The EIU combined the results of three international education tests (PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS) with literacy and graduation rates. The results appeared in The Learning Curve (aka Pearson/EIU report) published by Pearson.
However, the EIU issued warnings about their analysis. Much data was missing and had to be estimated by, say, calculating missing test results by how well a country did in other tests. Other analysts have pointed out that some of the data (eg literacy and secondary school graduation rates) might have come from a country’s education ministry and might not necessarily be accurate. The TES, for example, wrote that Pearson's report "relied heavily on graduate and adult rather than pupil performance."
The Sutton Trust also cautioned against the report's conclusions. It wrote, "a third of the score in the Pearson index, which placed England sixth in the world, was the result of data on secondary school completion and university graduation rates, which may owe more to policy decisions than attainment. When the latter data are excluded, England drops to 12th position, and could be lower if five other countries ahead of England on PISA, but not included in the Pearson index."
8 December 2013