23 SES 03 A, Governance and Monitoring
Since its reintroduction in the Portuguese educational system, in 1996, the exams – the most representative modality of the globalized testing phenomenon in Portugal – proved to be a relevant instrument of a new form of regulation, based on the results. Occurring within a trajectory of changes in the way the State intervenes in the regulation of education, the exams, have been associated with the emergence of a “post-bureaucratic regulatory regime” (Maroy, 2009) and cannot be dissociated from Portugal’s reception of New Public Management proposals (Carvalho, 2016).
Moreover, given its characteristics and organizing power, the exams are set up as a powerful political technology of change (Antunes & Sá, 2010), a meta-policy (Lingard et al, 2013), with obvious repercussions at various levels in the educational context.
This presentation is a part of a broader study aimed at understanding the power and organizing dimension of national exams, in Portugal. It occurs under the theoretical framework of the public action sociology approach, having the regulation and the instrumentation as the two central dimensions of the problématique. We understand the instrument as "a technical device with a generic vocation, bearing a specific conception of the political/society relation and sustained by a conception of regulation" (Lascoumes & Le Galès, 2005, p.11).
The choice of the instruments always evidences continuities and ruptures, which makes them a privileged indicator of changes in public policies. They are excellent traceurs du changement, in the words of Pierre Lascoumes (2007). Changes in the instrumental mix of a policy, that is, in the selection of instruments mobilized at any time for the implementation of a policy, or in the way they are used, may indicate more or less profound changes in the policy itself (Hall, 1993).
The instruments are bearers of representations, constituting themselves as schemas of perception of reality based on values. As institutions, the instruments are endowed with norms and corresponding sanctions governing the actions and interactions of actors in the public space (Carvalho, 2012). It is through these norms and sanctions, whose existence can be formal (when expressly foreseen by the instrument itself) or informal (when tacitly assumed by the actors as a consequence of their appropriation), that instruments, as social institutions, exercise social control and regulate the action of individuals in the public space.
In the educational field, this regulatory side of the instruments presupposes to problematize the reality, based on the values and concepts that the instruments carry on about how the school and teaching should be, together with the corresponding solutions (Carvalho, 2013, pp 65-66). The ‘problematization’ of reality is anchored in ideological matrices in which 'worldviews' are inscribed (Muller, 1990), what put the problems in perspective and mark the corresponding remedial preconceptions. Therefore, the instrument simultaneously creates the problem that it proposes to solve. Such ‘creation’ is socially made and the production and sharing of knowledge of the instrument (and by the instrument) decisively contribute to that.
Our purpose is to characterize and deconstruct the 'national exams' instrument in order to show its genesis and trajectory, as well as the tools that support and operationalize it. National testing, being a dominant instrument of the results-oriented regulatory processes, take on particular forms in each national/regional context, depending on the tensions, conflicts and agreements linked to the political-administrative and educational frameworks historically that are established in each context (Carvalho, Costa & Sant’Ovaia, in press). Therefore, we try to map the reconfigurations activated in the instrument, as a result of the succeeding political agendas of the State actors, in each moment, by identifying discontinuities and nuances of the regulatory action of the State.
The study followed a qualitative approach (Bogdan & Bilken, 1994; Tuckman, 2005). Document analysis was used as a valuable source of information (Marshall & Rossman, 1999) and interviews were taken as the main method to collect data (Warren, 2002). The documentary analysis focused on the guiding rules and legislation of the evaluation of primary and secondary students (laws, government decrees, and other official documentation, as official press releases, including information in the official web sites); on the annual reports published by the National Examining Jury [JNE] and the Institute of Educational Evaluation [IAVE]), the bodies that run the national (standardized) evaluation of students; and, also, it draws on the texts of Ministers for Education (documents, books, and public speeches), government programs and other official texts concerning the adoption of national testing, in order to understand the several ways of interpreting the regulatory rationale based on results. More specifically, the research comprised nine in-depth interviews with the current Minister of Education, and four former Ministers of Education, as well as two former Secretaries of State, one former Director General of Education, and the current presidents of the JNE and IAVE. It covered the period from 1995 to the present, with the purpose of understanding and relating political agendas, and problematizing perceptions and reconfigurations of the 'national exams' as an instrument. The data were submitted to content analysis (Bardin, 2013).
The presentation highlights different approaches on how the results-oriented regulatory processes are structured, in Portugal, which concern: accountability models, regulatory models, and legitimating principles for the education system, and how they are overcome in the Portuguese context. There are evidences of narratives associated to diverse functional assumptions of the exams, within the framework of different appropriations of the purpose of regulating the educational system. Under a legitimating narrative, based on social representations about the students' level of knowledge, we identify reconfigurations and mobilizations of the instrument that suggest purposes of selecting and guiding school paths, as well as to control the curricula, and to parameterize additional instruments for the evaluation of policies and the privatization of the public education service. Moreover, there is a tension between two types of institutional regulation: one, harder, which we refer to as a sanctioning regulation, and the other, softer, which we call pedagogical regulation. We also anticipate the corroboration of a hypothetical relationship between each of these two institutional regulation modalities and the two ideological matrices that have occurred in the Portuguese educational administration over the past 40 years.
Antunes, F., & Sá, V. (2010). Notas, pautas e vozes na escola: exames, rankings e regulação da educação. In M. T. Esteban e A. J. Afonso (Orgs.), Olhares e interfaces: Reflexões críticas sobre a avaliação, pp. 112-146. São Paulo: Cortez. Bardin, L. (2013). Análise de conteúdo (4ªed.). Lisboa: Edições. Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S., (1994). Investigação Qualitativa em Educação – uma introdução à teoria e aos métodos. Porto: Porto Editora. Carvalho, L. M. (2012). The fabrications and travels of a knowledge-policy instrument. European Educational Research Journal, 11(2): 172-188 Carvalho, L. M. (2013). Políticas educativas, conhecimento e ação pública [Relatório das provas de para obtenção do título de agregado]. Universidade de Lisboa – Instituto de Educação. Carvalho, L. M. (2016). Políticas educativas e governação da escola. In J. Machado & J. Matias Alves (org.), Professores e Escolas: conhecimento, formação, ação (8-30). Porto: Universidade Católica do Porto. Carvalho, L. M., Costa, E. & Sant’Ovaia, C. (in press). National testing in policy texts: depicting the faces of result-oriented regulatory processes in Portugal. European Educational Research Journal. Hall, P. (1993). Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain. Comparative Politics, 25 (2), 275–96. Lascoumes, P. & Le Galès, P. (2005). L'action Publique saisie par ses instruments. In Lascoumes, P., & Le Galès, P. (2005), Gouverner par les instruments. Introduction. Paris: Presses de SciencesPo. Lascoumes, P. (2007). Les instruments d’action publique, traceurs de changement : L’exemple des transformations de la politique française de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (1961-2006). Revue Politique et Sociétés, pp. 73-89. Société québécoise de science politique. Lingard, B., Martino, W. & Rezai-Rashti, G. (2013). Testing regimes, accountabilities and education policy: commensurate global and national developments. Journal of Education Policy, 28:5, 539-556. Maroy, C. (2009). Convergences and hybridization of educational policies around 'post bureaucratic' models of regulation. Compare: A Journal of comparative and international education, 39 (1), 71-84. Muller, P. (2009). Politiques Publiques. Paris: PUF. Tuckman, B. (2005). Manual de Investigação em Educação. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. Warren, C. A. B. (2002). Qualitative interviewing. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Handbook of interview research: Context and method (pp.83-101). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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