23 SES 12 D, Europeanising Education
National tests were introduced in Norway in 2004 as part of the quality assessment and school development system after concerns had been raised by OECD (1988) and results from international comparative assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment 2001. In some countries, standardized tests are used as a basis of making changes in practice, often backed with sanctions against teachers, schools and principals (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009). Such "high-stake-testing regimes" may lead to schools focusing the resources on what is to be tested and measured, or on removing students who may reduce the school results (Jacob, 2005; Reback, 2008). In Norway, the National tests do not officially have a corresponding function or leads to sanctions for how the schools run. Still, some critics have claimed that test results have been used as grounds for rewards, such as increased salary to rectors who can show improved results on the National tests (e.g. Marsdal, 2011). However, no such cases have been documented by scholars in Norway (Hopfenbeck (2014, p. 412). On the other hand, the results of the National tests are published for a general audience. News media are today the most important source about politics and current affairs, and journalism has become a social construction of reality (e.g. Altheide, 2004; Gunther & Mughan, 2000). It is likely that school practices have been deeply affected by media’s impact as well. A Norwegian study shows that schools that experience negative media coverage after poor results, change their practice and put more emphasis on what is measured by the tests (Elstad, 2009). The media discourse has most likely had a significant influence on how the school has been perceived by the general public, decision-makers and professionals. One important issue here is the school’s role as an instrument of social equality and inclusion. Over 97 percent of Norwegian children attend a public school owned by their municipality, and the Norwegian educational system has a solid tradition of inclusion, equity and equality in the educational system (Haugen, Hestbek, & Øfsti, 2014; Solstad, 2004). In some municipalities, notably Oslo, parents may choose which school their children will attend. In this context, the media image may be of great importance not only to the schools’ practice directly, but also to the recruitment to each school and thereby to the inclusionary role of the public school system. In any case, the mass media has had an extensive role in creating the widespread belief that the educational system is in crisis, a fear that has increased over the years (Fladmoe & Leiulfsrud, 2012, p. 9).
There are few studies on the effect news media has had on the development of educational thinking and the perceived school quality. With this backdrop, we have tried to elucidate how national tests are negotiated in the national and regional newspapers from 2004 to 2017. More specifically, we ask a) what topics the media debates have focused on, b) who has been given a platform for voicing their opinions, and c) what these agents express about national tests.
We will study the media debate through the lenses of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2003). To start with, we have searched for articles in both national and regional newspapers during the time-frame from 2004 to 2017. We have used the keywords: «nasjonale prøver» and resultat* and skole* [national tests AND result* AND school*]. The texts we will analyze are written within the framework of specific newpaper genres, which in part determines what may be uttered and what effect the utterance may have. The analysis also has to take into account the mechanisms of the media culture and the material and economical context, constituting a certain order of discourse (Fairclough, 2003, p. 24). We have chosen to focus on texts and utterances in newspapers, as we see news coverage not only as an important source for public information, but also as a driving force in political processes, and an arena for negotiating the content and use of the national tests. In our analysis, we have been looking for texts that express important actors’ conception of national tests. We will read these texts looking for how different social actors are ascribed different authority, roles, and modes of portraying the tests. Further, we will look for how the discourses in question are enacted through the media texts, or instilled by the actors. We study these texts as representations of different ideas of what the national tests are, or of what they are hoped to be – e.g. questions of school quality.
Preliminary results from the analyses indicate a shift in the debate from the time national tests were introduced to the Norwegian educational system until today. From the outset, the debate has focused on the values of the tests, as well as whether the test results should be made public or not and the consequences of such a publication. As time has passed, it appears as if the tests have been accepted. The debate has become a negotiation of different explanations for why certain test results are achieved, depending on the speaker’s perspective and context. In addition, the debate turns into blame game-discussions when the results are lower than expected. This then leads to narrowing the concept of quality of the school and a certain ordering of the voices in the debate.
Altheide, D. L. (2004). Media logic and political communication. Political Communication, 21(3), 293-296. Elstad, E. (2009). Schools which are named, shamed and blamed by the media: school accountability in Norway. Educational Assessment Evaluation and Accountability, 21(2), 173-189. doi:10.1007/s11092-009-9076-0 Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge. Fladmoe, A., & Leiulfsrud, H. (2012). How teachers experience the opinion climate on education in Norway and Finland. Nordic Studies in Education, 32(03-04), 159-176. Gunther, R., & Mughan, A. (2000). Democracy and the media: a comparative perspective: Cambridge University Press. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change: Corwin Press. Haugen, C. R., Hestbek, T. A., & Øfsti, R. (2014). Pedagogikk, politikk og etikk : demokratiske utfordringer og muligheter i norsk skole. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Hopfenbeck, T. N. (2014). Testing times: Fra PISA til nasjonale prøver. Intensjoner, ansvar og anvendelse. In J. H. Stray & L. Wittek (Eds.), Pedagogikk - en grunnbok (pp. 401-419). Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk. Jacob, B. A. (2005). Accountability, incentives and behavior: the impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools. Journal of Public Economics, 89(5–6), 761-796. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2004.08.004 Marsdal, M. E. (2011). Kunnskapsbløffen : skoler som jukser, barn som gruer seg. Oslo: Manifest. OECD. (1988). Reviews of national policies for education: Norway 1987. Paris: OECD. Reback, R. (2008). Teaching to the rating: School accountability and the distribution of student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 92(5), 1394-1415. Solstad, K. J. (2004). Einskapsskolen - likeverd og mangfald under same tak? In T. O. Engen & K. J. Solstad (Eds.), En likeverdig skole for alle? Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
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
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- 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.