In addition to this piece, Zhao also wrote a series of pieces exploring some of the pecularities within the data, including why a growth mindset does not work for Chinese students, the problems with culture-free results, and the relationship between fear based learning and student results.
PISA successfully marketed itself as a measure of educational quality with the claim to measure skills and knowledge that matters in modern economies and in the future world. Upon closer examination, the excellence defined by PISA is but an illusion, a manufactured claim without any empirical evidence. Furthermore, PISA implies a monolithic and espouses a distorted and narrow view of purpose for all education systems in the world. The consequence is a trend of global homogenization of education and celebration of authoritarian education systems for their high PISA scores, while ignoring the negative consequences on important human attributes and local cultures of such systems.