23 SES 07 B, Policy Borrowing and Policy Learning in Education
’Quick’ global and European level policy comparisons increasingly inform national state’s policy making (Grek & Lawn, 2009, 2012, Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Lundahl and Waldow (2009) identify how ‘quick languages’ of national and international tests frame up and makes educational policy discourse accessible to wider circles of participants. The issue of policy borrowing have been thoroughly researched (Steiner-Khamsi & Waldow, 2012) with increased attention given to supranational organisations’ (Dale, 2005) influence on national states’ policy making (Grek, 2009, 2013; Ozga, Dahler-Larsen, Segerholm & Simola, 2011). Prøitz (2015) demonstrates a sequential approach of uploading and downloading that shaped OECDs (2013) policy review Synergies for better learning, and note that domestic policies’ impact on international policy reviews is under-researched. In this paper we illuminate processes that inform the construction of supranational representations of national policies by examining selected frameworks and processes for nation states’ self-representation of educational assessment policies within the EU and OECD. The purpose is to illustrate the complexity of this information and its validity as source of constructing national policy.
Addressing the large presence of educational assessment practices on the governing agenda, Meadmore (1995) identify ‘the political balancing act of keeping the language of policy making in accordance with what is in the child's best interests as well as satisfying the needs of government to 'know' a population so that it can act in ways which are considered to be appropriate to state building’ (p. 9). The increased influence of supranational organisations on education policy have been characterised by Ozga, Dahler-Larsen, Segerholm & Simola (2011) as the governance turn, describing the shift from the practice of policy and administration within the state-form (government) to more involvement of other agents and agencies such as EU and the OECD. Indeed, initiatives from global and European actors have lead to national discussions as to what is required by a nation and its inhabitants to excel in the international competition. The so-called ‘knowledge economy’ legitimizes external involvement in national education systems (Forsberg, 2014).
We identify examples of governments’ attempt to legitimise new policy implementation claiming a need for coherence with the European ’normality’. We illuminate tendencies of European policy isomorphism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) guided by misinterpretations or inferences based on global and European level information concerning policy structures that cannot be substantiated. These modes of legitimising policies create new national semantics for governing education.
Nations’ borrowing is mediated by structural comparisons that are constructions developed through procedures for representation and data reduction that may be standardized and not (see also Lundahl 2014). This type of policy borrowing is often not made explicit. This is problematic in policy areas of which the juridical and political terms are highly institutionalised and embedded in the nations’ distinct tradition. Educational assessment, particularly the formal assessments and national instruments underpinning meritocratic procedures, often relies on ’taken for granted’ information because ’all’ members of the national political contexts have undertaken these assessments (Lundahl & Tveit 2014). This implicitness becomes problematic when self-reported representations of national policies inform other countries’ policy making.
We address the validity of these inferences by examining: (1) What can be said and compared with regards to grading policies based on European and global level information? (2) Who are the authors of national states’ self-reporting to global and European level information services?
(3) Further, addressing other sources of information and scholarly articles, we examine how the self-reported and supranational mediated policy information stand the test of scrutiny based on scholarly articles addressing selected countries’ policies for educational assessment.
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