07 SES 07 A, Innovative Global Projects
Rigorous, systematic assessment of student learning has become a familiar element of education systems in most European nations. While not without its detractors, the use of standardised assessment to diagnose weaknesses, and to evaluate subsequent interventions to address these, have become broadly regarded as fundamental to the improvement of student learning outcomes. Policy makers, school principals and teachers in many European countries rely on the insights that assessment can provide and generally understand its importance in contributing to learning. Procedures and protocols established by the OECD’s PISA (OECD 2015) and the IEAA’s TIMSS and PIRLS (IEAA 2017), among others, have gained widespread acceptance and the ability to benchmark between countries, as well as within countries, is increasingly valued.
Such assumptions are not widespread in many parts of the world however. The Millennium Development Goals (United Nations 2015a) focused on improving school attendance. This appears to have had some impact and there was a clear increase in enrolment in primary education between 2000 and 2015. Question marks remain, however, about the standard of education offered to those students who are now in school. There is little evidence that learning is being optimised across the board, and there remain significant concerns that the quality of education is far from what will be needed to ensure sustainable development into the future.
Concerns about educational quality are reinforced by the prevalence of classroom practices that remain characterised by rote learning, enormous class sizes, poor quality school infrastructure and inadequate teacher training. Formal examinations exacerbate, rather than mitigate, the level of apprehension not only due to the way in which assessment materials are designed – and what is measured - but also by appearing to indicate that large proportions of students perform very well indeed, with very few deemed to perform below expectations. While convenient for political posturing, the apparently limited correlation between exam results and actual capabilities augers poorly for the ability of current examination systems to inform improvements in learning outcomes.
As a consequence of these concerns, the Sustainable Development Goals focus on ‘inclusive and quality education for all’ (United Nations 2015b). Drawing on the trend in European nations, the focus on quality could be expected to encompass a significant amount of attention on implementing standardised and rigorous assessment to help lift learning outcomes. European countries will inevitably play a vital role in ensuring the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is therefore of paramount importance that they understand the extent to which their experiences and expertise can be brought to bear in the context of developing countries.
This paper draws on the experience of a European supporting reform in educational assessment in one of the largest states of India in the form of a research project in which novel approaches to assessment are piloted. The paper draws attention to the many underlying assumptions that anchor approaches to assessment in Europe and discusses the extent to which they need to be reframed if assessment is to support sustainable development in developing countries.
The author has previously implemented large scale standardised assessment across many European countries, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, The Netherlands and Norway. Taking this as the starting point, the paper explores the components of the different phases of assessment – from preparation to implementation to analysis to reporting – and considers the ways in which European models could be reconceptualised when faced with a developing educational environment. It concludes by highlighting structural, practical, philosophical and cultural issues that require addressing if European models for the assessment of student learning can help support sustainable development around the world.
IEA (2017) Our Studies. Accessed 14 January 2017 from http://www.iea.nl/our-studies Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2015) Programme for International Student Assessment. Accessed 14 January 2017 from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ United Nations (2015a) Millennium Development Goals Report. Accessed 14 January 2017 from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20rev%20(July%201).pdf United Nations (2015b) Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning Accessed 14 January 2017 from http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/education/
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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