09 SES 13 A JS, Global Perspectives on International Achievement Testing and Educational Policy Development (Part 1)
Joint Symposium NW 09 and NW 13 to be continued in 09 SES 14 A JS
The significance of international tests and benchmarks in the formulation and evaluation of education policy in the Republic of Ireland is particularly well illustrated in the 2015 publication by the Department of Education and Skills of its plan for “service delivery and reform”. Setting out the vision and mission for the department and some key statistics for the education and training sector in Ireland, the report then notes that “national and international assessments show that Ireland is performing well in a number of areas” (Department of Education and Skills, 2015b, p. 7). The report continues by presenting summaries of Ireland’s performance in international tests and benchmarking exercises, as well as of the progress of students in national sample assessments in reading and mathematics. This emphasis on performance data stands in marked contrast to the observation in a government white paper 20 years earlier that there was a need to “focus more sharply on outcomes and associated measures of performance” (Department of Education, 1995, p. 193). This change over a period of 20 years from a system challenged by the absence of robust evaluation of outcomes to one where such outcomes are central to the presentation and formulation of education policy is the focus of the analysis presented in this paper. The analysis shows that in its first two cycles, PISA (far more influential in Ireland than any other international testing program) provided evidence in the construction of a rationale for reform; in a further stage in the interaction between the results and education policy, PISA results generate an urgency and an impetus for change, but they also shape that change. The influence of these tests is increasing over time in an Irish context. It is difficult to isolate the variables in the complex interaction between the data and the policy, against a backdrop of accelerated changes across developed education systems in the period under discussion. More data from international tests become available in the period under analysis. This alone is likely to have contributed to their greater influence. But it is clear that even though Ireland’s performance in mathematics and science was relatively static, the impact of that performance appeared to accelerate and strengthen. The case of Ireland’s 2009 PISA results in reading demonstrates how a significant (if contested) deterioration in performance pushed the system into an unprecedented cycle of reform.
Coolahan, J. (2003). Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Country Background Report for Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Department of Education and Science, OECD. Department of Education. (1995). Charting our education future. White paper on education. Dublin, Ireland: The Stationery Office. Department of Education and Skills. (2011). Literacy and numeracy for learning and for life. The national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy among children and young people 2011-2018. Dublin, Ireland: Author. Department of Education and Skills. (2015b). Ireland’s education and training sector. Overview of service delivery and reform. Dublin: Author. Looney, A. (2007). Assessment in the Republic of Ireland. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 13(3), 345–353. Mourshed, M., Chijioke, C., & Barber, M. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. London, England: McKinsey & Company. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (1991). Review of national policies for education—Ireland. Paris, France: Author. Perkins, R., Moran, G., Cosgrove, J., & Shiel, G. (2010). PISA 2009: The performance and progress of 15-year-olds in Ireland—Summary report. Dublin, Ireland: Educational Research Centre. Sofroniou, N., Shiel, G., & Cosgrove, J. (2002). PISA reading literacy in Ireland: An expanded model exploring attributes of self-regulated learning. The Irish Journal of Education, 33, 71-78.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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