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Abstract

In the past decade, OECD and IEA-type studies have received massive public attention and subsequent notice by policy makers. In several countries, the magnitude of public attention and the policy usage of these international studies have been unprecedented. For many experts in domestic policy and school reform studies, an international perspective is now considered indispensable. Their attraction to reform models of other educational systems often arises from an interest either in simply "learning from elsewhere" (Phillips, 2000) or in active policy borrowing. This article focuses on the political usages of OECD- and IEA-type studies, and suggests that we examine in more detail how international league tables are used to advance fundamental school reform at national levels. Despite the increasing trend of transnational policy borrowing and lending in education, how and why specific educational systems become objects of attraction, under which circumstances they lose attraction, and what impact cross-national attraction has had on borrowing reform strategies from one system to another (Ochs/ Phillips 2002), have been understudied topics. In contrast to the normative endeavor that seeks answers to the questions "what can be learned and imported from elsewhere?" (borrowing) and "what can be taught and exported elsewhere?" (lending), it is important to draw more attention to why and how references to elsewhere have been used to advance local educational reform. In addressing these questions, we can possibly gain not only a better understanding of the phenomena of cross-national policy attraction and educational borrowing, but also acquire new insights into topical issues such as globalization and international convergence in education.

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