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The Making of Educational Facts: A History of International Large-Scale Assessments
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences.
Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway.
2016 (English)In: NERA 2016, Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity in Education: Book of abstracts, 2016, 163-164 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In a meritocracy society performance in schools has been increasingly judged on the basis of effective student learning outcomes. This can be studied e.g. in shifts of emphasis between curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation (e.g. Mølstad, 2015). Countries inspired by the importance of comparisons and data developed tools and techniques for evaluation and assessment as part of their efforts to improve student learning outcomes; this because education is characterized as a central requirement for national economic development and political democratization. Since the end of the 19th century production of numbered data starts to be used for bringing new visions of the social and economic world. The new construction of epistemic references for defining “reality” with the help of data is linked to the creation and management of the self-defined “democratic” state. Numerical data also provided more than an “objective way” of seeing reality, it “instituted” reality by creating a “common cognitive space” that could be both observed and described through data (Lussi, Borer, & Lawn, 2013). This “common cognitive space” has been framed by e.g. the narratives of different international knowledge assessments. Consequently, we are able to discuss some prerequisites for the creation and dissemination of International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSA).

ILSA produce educational facts through international comparative data influencing curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation (cf. Bernstein, 1977). Through statistics, reports and studies the ILSA organizations have activated a “common sense” by stating that scientific “proofs” are indisputable (Martens, 2007). The policy is driven by an expert discourse that, by means of comparative strategies, tends to impose natural or common sense answersin national settings (cf. Pettersson, 2008). While ILSA serves national policymakers well with a comparable discourse in terms of statistics, it also provides them with a global policy lexicon concerning what education is and ought to be (cf. Pettersson, 2014). However, what becomes evident is that ILSA forms how educational concepts are interpreted and understood. Consequently, ILSA creates not only facts for policy, they also creates facts for e.g. science, grey-zone actors (Lindblad, Pettersson & Popkewitz, 2015), mass-media, school development actors and public opinion.

Our article illustrates different historical trajectories on international comparisons and the usage of data as important phenomenon for understanding how various ILSA became well knownproducers of educational facts. We also highlight how the phenomenon of comparisons and data usage was manifested, disseminated and established as the very core of educational thinking – interpreted, legitimated and put into practice within meritocracy and creating frames for curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. 163-164 p.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-21375OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-21375DiVA: diva2:915709
Conference
NFPF/NERA’s 44th Congress, NERA 2016, Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity in Education, 9-11 March 2016, Helsinki, Finland
Available from: 2016-03-30 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2016-04-25Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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