28 SES 06 B, Software, Standards and School-Building Programmes
Debates on educational standards such as performance measures, professional profiles and competency lists for teaching staff often take the form of an either-or discussion (e.g. Fendler, 2009; Ladwig & Gore, 2009; Page, 2016; Stone-Johnson, 2014; Storey, 2007). Either they are seen as an instrument to ensure “that competent people want to work as teachers, that their teaching is of high quality, and that all students have access to high quality teaching” (OECD, 2005: 1-2); or they are regarded as an intrusive expression of the ambition to regulate and control teaching and education at large (e.g. Achinstein & Ogawa, 2006; Ball, 2003). Whereas the first perspective assumes a linear relation between raising standards, improving quality and improving the standing and status of the teaching profession (OECD, 2005; European Commission, 2013), the second criticizes the idea of capturing the complex and always undefined practices of teaching into performance measures, lists of competencies or learning outcomes, thereby pointing to side-effects such as de-professionalization, fragmentation and reductionism (Ball, 2003; Biesta, 2007; Korthagen, 2004; Larsen, 2010; Sachs, 2003; Simons & Kelchtermans, 2008).
Conceiving standards through a binary lens, though, fails to capture the specific and unintended consequences of different sorts of standards for different groups of actors in distinct social settings (Ceulemans, Simons & Struyf, 2012; Fendler, 2009; Page, 2016; Sachs, 2003; Stone-Johnson, 2014; Storey, 2007). While notions like ‘parallel professionalism’ (Stone-Johnson, 2014) and ‘new professionalism’ (Storey, 2007) have been introduced to point to the different ways educational standards are experienced by teachers from different generations, various authors highlight the importance of research perspectives that allow to see the tensions and contradictions that are enacted when standards and their concomitant accountability measures come to play a role in what people say and do in education (e.g. Campozano Aviles & Simons, 2013; Ladwig & Gore, 2009; Page, 2016; Penninckx, Vanhoof, De Maeyer & Van Petegem, 2016; Simons, Kelchtermans, Leysen & Vandenbroek, 2016).
In this article, we try to move beyond this dilemma by shifting the focus away from what standards are (the content) or where they are for (the goal or intentions) and replace it by the detailed study of what standards do in a particular setting. Building on a case-study of the Flemish teacher career profile ‘in action’ (Latour, 1987), we present six mechanisms of standardizing work. First: for standards to have an effect, they need a specific type of user (otherwise they’re just a piece of paper no one cares for). Second: the more a standard allows for a versatile use, the more powerful its effect. Third: once people identify with a standard in what they say and do, its effect tends to go unnoticed, which, fourthly, often implies a shift in control between the standard and its user(s). Fifth: the capacity to control lies within (those working with) the standard, not in the hands of those who would be ‘behind’ the standard. Sixth, and building on the former: what a standard does depends on what and who it relates to. If we want to take hold of standards and what they do in education, therefore, we have to know more about how exactly they come to work. Opening the black box of educational standards, we argue, makes it possible to discuss, time and again, which role(s) standards (are to) play in education, whether these standards do what those working with the standard – teachers, school principals, teacher educators, educational researchers, experts and policy makers alike – expect them to do, and if not, how their working conditions need to be altered.
Ceulemans, C., Simons, M., & Struyf, E. (2012). Professional standards for teachers: how do they ‘work’? An experiment in tracing standardisation in-the-making in teacher education. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 20(1), 29-47. Decuypere, M., Ceulemans, C., Simons, M. (2014). Schools in the making: Mapping digital spaces of evidence. Journal of Education Policy, 29(5), 617-639. Fendler, L. (2009). Teacher professionalisation as a double-edged sword. In M. Simons, M. Olssen & M.A. Peters (Eds.), Re-reading education policies: A handbook studying the policy agenda of the 21st century (pp. 771–88). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Korthagen, F. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(1), 77–97. Ladwig, J. G., & Gore, J. M. (2009). Re-reading the standards agenda. In M. Simons, M. Olssen & M.A. Peters (Eds.), Re-reading education policies: A handbook studying the policy agenda of the 21st century (pp. 722-734). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Latour, B. (2004). Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry, 30, 225-248. Larsen, M. A. (2010). Troubling the discourse of teacher centrality: a comparative perspective. Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), 207-231. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005). Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers – Final Report: Teachers Matter. Downloaded September 22nd 2014, from www.oecd.org/edu/teacherpolicy Page, D. (2016). Understanding performance management in schools: a dialectical approach. International Journal of Educational Management, 30(2), 166 – 176. Sachs, J. (2003). Teacher Professional Standards: Controlling or developing teaching? Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 9(2), 175-186. Simons, M. (2007). ‘To be informed’: Understanding the role of feedback information for Flemish/European policy. Journal of Education Policy, 22, 531-548. Simons, M., & Kelchtermans, G. (2008). Teacher professionalism in Flemish policy on teacher education: a critical analysis of the Decree on teacher education (2006) in Flanders, Belgium. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 14, 283-294. Stone-Johnson, C. (2014). Parallel professionalism in an era of standardization. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 20(1), 74-91. Storey, A. (2007). Cultural shifts in teaching: new workforce, new professionalism? The Curriculum Journal, 18(3), 253-270. Timmermans, S. & Berg, M. (1997). Standardization in action: Achieving local universality through medical protocols. Social Studies of Science, 27, 273-305.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.