Know Your Limits!



This extended post challenges the argument that all learners can be high attainers.

It sets out the various strands of this argument, highlighting the weaker links and illustrating them with the assistance of two case studies, both branded school improvement strategies.

It uses PISA 2015 data to demonstrate that none of the world’s leading jurisdictions is close to a position where more than a minority of learners is reaching high performance thresholds.


Summarising the argument

Not infrequently one encounters the statement that all learners are capable of excelling in their education, of becoming high attainers.

This may be articulated in relation to:

  • The learner, where it is typically associated with the dangers of ‘labelling’ individuals as (potentially) successful or otherwise. Unless we maintain consistent and universally high expectations of what learners are capable of achieving – so the argument runs – too many will underachieve, and so…

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