27 SES 13 B, Impact of Research and Policies on Classroom Practices
The idea that testing can provide teachers with valuable and necessary data that they need in order to target and teach their students effectively seem persuasive to many politicians and school administrators. This is also how testing technology based on IRT (Item Response Theory) often very forcefully argues why testing is necessary. It builds on an idea that we (society, parents, politicians, and of course teachers) need an assessment of what students know configured into reliable data in order to teach. In addition, it is often argued that in order to help students at risk this kind of assessment and testing is indispensable for teachers. Testing technology builds on an idea that objective and comparable data can provide a teacher with scores that tells her what her students know, comprehend and what they struggle with (see: (https://www.nwea.org/assessments/map/). Part of the underlying assumptions about the need to test children in order to assess and compare score, is the idea that children’s learning has stable and defined perimeters. It also assumes that learning is related to a kind of (universal) subject knowledge which is stable, and it presupposes that teachers need these instruments (tests) in order to validate their assessments and that teachers are not able to do this as part of their everyday teaching practice.
In this paper I argue that in teaching and learning processes one has to take into account that human values and wellbeing has to be grounded on human flourishing and diversity. My discussion in this paper is guided by the question: Can teaching be determined by testing? I take departure from the OECD report: “Universal basic skills, what countries stand to gain” (OECD, 2015) and analyse what kind of skills this report refers to. I show that basic skills are defined as cognitive skills, from this I go on to discuss how this form of knowing is made superior to everyday procedural skills – or practical knowledge. These basic (cognitive) skills are the same type of skills that are tested through PISA. Through psychometrics and the use of IRT (Item Response Theory) a test instrument is build up in order to secure and validate comparisons over a consecutive number of years, measuring the same type of cognitive skills across a very large population of students. With this as a background I started making inquiries about how this idea is permeating teaching and learning processes in school.
I then go on to show and argue how a testing industry promises how teaching can be made more effective. I have looked into NWEA (The North West Evaluation Association, USA) as one example of how assessing (testing) is framed. NWEA promises that they have developed an assessment system that measures academic progress (MAP®). Again what this computerized assessment/test measure is cognitive skills. The idea is that teaching can be developed based on this MAP test – because this give more accurate assessment of pupils. Indirectly this say that teacher assessments are unreliable (subjective) and this assumption seem to have a strong impact on how teaching and learning processes are perceived, by people both inside and outside of school. The argument I develop is concerned with what this kind of assessment does with teaching and consequently also students learning in school. Across many school systems in Europe this kind of testing is applied in school. I Have studied the development of this testing culture in the Norwegian national tests (https://www.udir.no/globalassets/filer/vurdering/nasjonaleprover/metodegrunnlag-for-nasjonale-prover.pdf).
This paper is part of a chapter in a book I am currently writing with a colleague. The title of the book is “Making Education Educational. A reflective approach to teaching”. It is a theoretical and practical pedagogical work, philosophising and theorising about the key process of education: teaching and learning. In this paper, I take departure from a visit I did in the classroom of a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher in a rural school in Alaska. Several conversations with her and being in her classroom over the period of a month (Jan. 2017) sparked some of the discussion I address in this paper. Methodically I take departure for a practical situation, or a case, developing an argument where I investigate and try to show what has happened. The ideas underlying testing in school, as I found, is informed by psychometrics and an understanding that learning has to do with a type of cognitive skills. My approach is a type of “deconstruction” of what this kind of testing/assessing does, and what happens to teaching (and learning) when this testing technology takes over education. Looking into these connections and how they inform education needs exposure – for a more informed discussion and decision about the future of teaching and learning processes in school. This is a scholarly work were I have used a concrete situation related to testing and assessing, quite common internationally, to investigate how a special branch of cognitive psychology informed by psychometric have been able to colonize a vocabulary that were formerly informed by pedagogy (in the continental context).
This paper raises some important questions, related to a current development in education internationally. This study is not an empirical study and does not refer to findings per.se. I discuss a current situation where testing, which is seen as an indicator and monitor has influenced education policies worldwide. Politically and educationally, test scores and comparisons are used as indicators of progress and quality of an education system. How countries respond to the testing industry will vary, my concern has been to investigate in what way a certain kind of testing technology colonizes teaching and learning processes in school. I have a wide variety of references for this work. My primary theoretical and philosophical reference is Paul Ricoeur and Hanna Arendt. In this paper I am also elaborating on a discussion opened by Gert Biesta, especially referring to the book ”Good Education in the Age of Measurement (2010)
I have a wide variety of references for this work. My primary theoretical and philosophical reference is Paul Ricoeur and Hanna Arendt. In this paper I am also elaborating on a discussion opened by Gert Biesta, especially referring to the book ”Good Education in the Age of Measurement (2010), in addition to papers from OECD and the Norwegian government.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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