23 SES 01 A, PISA and Education Governance
Major international studies, such as TIMSS, PISA, PIRLS or TALIS, have become these days one of the main governance technologies in the fields of education and training. In this set of studies, the PISA-Programme for International Student Assessment is, surely, the one which exerts the greatest influence on political decision-makers, school administrators or the media. Launched in 1997, by OECD member countries, seeks “monitoring the extent to which students near the end of compulsory schooling have acquired the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society” (OECD, 2005, p.3). To achieve this objective the PISA in an innovative way (according to its own), implements the concept of literacy by relating it to the “capacity of students to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they pose, solve and interpret problems in a variety of subject matter areas (idem, p.3). This underline, in our perspective, the beginning of a new concept of literacy rescuing into the field of education a very popular concept in the 1980s in the field of sociology of the professions (Dubar, 1998) and which studies in the field of adult education had been using since the 1970 (Gomes et al, 2000): skills concept.
The central argument of this communication develops through the (re)configuration that the concept of literacy has had throughout history. Then, we locate and question its role in the field of educational policies, since we take PISA here as a program anchored in the knowledge-based regulation tools (KRT) paradigm (Ozga & GreK, 2012).
First, we analyse the concept of literacy based on shifting from a developmental model to the globalization (hegemonic) model implied a reorganization of the States, which strive to become more competitive, namely as regards attracting investment from transnational corporations into their territories. It is in this context that the large projects of international comparison become central to the forms of transnational regulation of education policies. And here the choice of literacy indicators constitutes the crucial issue in the construction and setting of that global agenda, with an impact on national education policies, from the central States to those of the semi-periphery of the world system (Teodoro 2011).
Then we analyse the centrality of literacy as the main operative concept of measurement in PISA and how, from their results, they become the think tank of education field. Worldwide studies, like PISA are today one of the main governance technologies (Mangez & Hilgers 2012). Their role is to provide evidence for political government action (evidence-based policy), relegating other aspects to the background, such as the democratic debate on the political dimensions of education (Teodoro 2011). Recent initiatives have questioned this dimension of global governance, focusing their analysis especially on PISA, undoubtedly the broadest and most powerful of the studies conducted at present by the OECD. Two should be mentioned: in December 2011, at the University of Albany (NY, US), a conference debated PISA's role in global educational benchmarking (Meyer & Benavot 2013); in November 2009, organized by the Comparative Education Society in Europe (CESE), a conference was held in Las Palmas (Spain) where PISA was under examination (Pereyra, Kottoff & Cohen 2011).
We conclude that literacy has become an important and decisive resource in the context of the current knowledge society and that the PISA program, when reviewing and putting the concepts of literacy and skills in relation, constituted a single model of analysis. But as all models requires constant review and criticism so that it can effectively contribute with substantiated public policies to a demanding, inclusive and radically democratic school in the access to the learning necessary to the enjoyment of full citizenship.
In order to respond to the objectives of this communication, the analysis presented, focused and theoretically oriented, was structured around two complementary and relevant variants for the understanding of the processes related to the socio-historical construction of a literacy concept. On the one hand, it was tried to know how the definition of the concept of literacy has evolved to the times of the times. On the other hand, assess their role and place in the framework of current knowledge-based societies. To achieve this, from a methodological point of view, was used a qualitative research approach, in which a bibliographical search and analysis was made in order to write the state of the art of the literacy concept, relating it to its cultural, social, economic and political dimensions. After this, interviews were conducted with privileged actors who had a direct relationship with the implementation of PISA in Portugal. Here we try to know the explicit and implicit logics underlying the concept of literacy as an indicator of measure. It should be noted that the thematic focus and type of approach outlined for this communication emerge in the context of Task 1: The Portuguese participation: the political decision, of a research project that the authors of this communication are part of. With the title "“PISA-PT | A success story? Portugal and the PISA (2000-2015)” this project seeks to understand the reasons Portugal is depicted by the OECD as a success case, with one of the most significant evolutions in results between 2006 and 2015. In this project we assuming that these international surveys, particularly PISA, constitute powerful transnational regulation means, the research project covers several dimensions of analysis, attempting to know how the different national actors (policy-makers, school administrators, teachers' unions, parents) associations, media) have appropriated the process and included the results of this participation in discourses, public policies and professional practices. This project is funded by FCT-Foundation for Science and Technology, the main funding agency for research projects in Portugal.
With this communication we expect: To clarify the concept of literacy in order to contribute to its conceptual and social dimension; To demonstrate the importance of a clear definition of the concept, as the main operative concept in student skills assessment; To contribute with a critical analysis that can effectively contribute with substantiated public policies to a demanding, inclusive and radically democratic school in the access to the learning necessary to the enjoyment of full citizenship
Dubar, C. (1998). A Socialisation: construction des identités sociales et profissionnelles. Malakoff, France: Édition Armand Colin. Gomes, M. C., Ávila, P., Sebastião, J. &, Costa, A. F. (2000). Novas análises dos níveis de literacia em Portugal: comparações diacrónicas e internacionais. In IV Portuguese Congress of Sociology, april 17-19. Coimbra: Portugal. Mangez, E. &, Hilgers, M. (2012). The Field of Knowledge and the Policy Field in Education: PISA and the Production of Knowledge for Policy. European Educational Journal, vol. 11, issue 2, pp. 189-205. https://doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2012.11.2.189 Meyer, H-D. &, Benavot A. (Eds.) (2013). PISA, Power, and Policy: the emergence of global educational governance. Oxford: Symposium Books. OECD (2005). The definition and selection of key competencies. Executive Summary. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/35070367.pdf Ozga, J. &, Grek, S. (2012). Governing through Learning. School Self-Evaluation as a Knowledge-based Regulatory Tool. Recherche Sociologiques et Antropologiques, 42(2), pp. 35-52. Pereyra, M. A., Kottoff, H-G &, Cowen, R. (2011). PISA Under Examination Changing Knowledge, Changing Tests, and Changing Schools. Rotterdam, Netherland: Sense Publishers. Teodoro, A (2011). A educação em tempos de globalização neoliberal. Os novos modos de acesso das políticas educacionais. Brasília: Liber Livro.
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