Set against the backdrop of the education work of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the changing place of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) within it, the paper analyzes the OECD’s rationale for PISA. It involves an account of the media strategies, the OECD’s education, and skills that the directorate utilizes to manage the PISA message. The document then outlines the various rationales that the nations use for participating in PISA. The national usage of PISA often involves externalization rather than policy learning, with comparative performance on PISA being used to legitimize the policy reforms which are usually not connected to the policies in top performing nations. Three cases of such externalization are proffered as responses to the United States, England, and Australia in comparison to Shanghai’s outstanding performance on PISA 2009.