23 SES 01 A, Policies of Standardization in Education
In broad terms the dominant national discourses influencing education can be characterised as moving from humanist and socially-orientated (Hermann, 2007) towards an increased focus on skills acquisition and individualization in recent years, and techno-rationalist, individualist and accountability-focussed in England (Goodson & Lindblad, 2011). Whilst standardized tests have been part of this techno-rationalist national education discourse in England for over twenty years, they are a relatively recent addition in Denmark where they were introduced in 2010 partly in response to PISA concerns.
Whilst much has been written about testing in each country (for example, in England, Adams, 2008; Tomlinson, 2005; in Denmark, Andreasen & Hjörne, 2013; Ekholm et al., 2004), only a small number of studies have compared assessment practices across these countries (for example, McNess et al., 2003) and none have done so since the introduction of the national standardized tests in Denmark in 2010. Reading is tested at age 11 years in both Denmark and England, but the form of these tests differs considerably. This is largely due to the influence of different national cultures and dominant discourses on education. English children sit a common paper and pencil test, whereas Danish children sit individualized, adaptive computer-based tests. In England children sit tests for reading, writing, mathematics and science all in one week in May; in Denmark, different subject areas are tested at different times.
For Au (2008), high-stakes tests operate as a relay in the reproduction of dominant social relations in education. By structuring knowledge, high-stakes tests actively select and regulate student identities, and thus contribute to the selection and regulation of students’ educational success. They structure knowledge by: defining what counts as legitimate school knowledge; exerting considerable control over the form in which teachers present content knowledge in the classroom, mirroring that used in the tests; and leveraging control over teacher pedagogies towards teacher-centred pedagogies in an effort to keep up with the content and knowledge forms required by the tests.
The purposes of the study reported here were threefold: (1) to begin to compare how testing in each country structures knowledge, pedagogy and student identities; (2) to begin to examine the relationship between test-induced changes in classroom practices and the reproduction of inequalities in education; and (3) to look how these processes can be fully explored in a larger study.
Adams, P. (2008) Considering ‘best practice’: the social construction of teacher activity and pupil learning as performance, Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(3), 375-392. Andreasen, K. & Hjörne, E. (2013) Assessing Children in the Nordic Countries: Framing, Diversity and Matters of lnclusion and Exclusion in a School for All. in U. Blossing, G. Imsen & L. Moos, L. (Eds) The Nordic Education Model: 'A School for All' Encounters Neo-Liberal Policy. Dordrecht: Springer. Au, W. (2008): Devising inequality: a Bernsteinian analysis of high-stakes testing and social reproduction in education, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(6), 639-51. Ball, S. and Bowe, R. (1992) Subject Departments and the 'implementation' of National Curriculum Policy, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 24 (2), 97-115. Bernstein, B. (1990) The structure of pedagogic discourse. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Bernstein, B. (1996) Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. London: Taylor Francis. Bernstein, B. (1999a) Official knowledge and pedagogic identities. in F. Christie (Ed.) Pedagogy and the shaping of consciousness: Linguistic and social processes, 246-61. New York: Cassell. Bernstein, B. & Solomon J. (1999b) ‘Pedagogy, identity, and the construction of a theory of symbolic control’: Basil Bernstein questioned by Joseph Solomon, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 265-79. Bernstein, B. (2004) Social class and pedagogic practice, in S.J. Ball (Ed) The RoutledgeFalmer reader in Sociology of Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer: 196-217. Ekholm, M, Mortimore, P, David-Evans, M, Laukkanen, R & Valijarvi, J (2004) OECD-rapport om grundskolen i Danmark 2004 [OECD report on basic schooling in Denmark 2004], Copenhagen. Goodson, I. & Lindblad, S. (Eds.) (2011) Professional knowledge and educational restructuring in Europe, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Hermann, S. (2007) Magt og oplysning. Folkeskolen 1950-2006, [Power and enlightenment. Folk Schools 1950-2006.] Unge Pædagogers: Forlag. McNess, E., Broadfoot, P. & Osborn, M. (2003) Is the Effective Compromising the Affective? British Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 243-257. Singh, P. (2002) Pedagogising Knowledge: Bernstein's theory of the pedagogic device. British Journal of Sociology of Education 23(4): 571-582. Tomlinson, S. (2005) Education in a Post-Welfare Society, Buckingham: OUP.
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