23 SES 07 C, Accountability
Parallel Paper Session
The aim of this paper is to study the mobilisation and transformation of foreign evidence by French national evaluators when they have to implement in their own educational system a new policy instrument: evaluation. Two external evaluation tools are particularly analysed which played an important role in the French policy of school evaluation: the collective school inspections led since the middle of the 1970s by high central inspectors “inspecteurs généraux”) and the indicators of secondary schools performance and added value (“IPES-IVAL” indicators) conceived by the statisticians from the central administration of the ministry of education since the 1980s.
The idea is to study knowledge production, dissemination and translation processes all along the implementation of such tools to better analyse and appreciate the forms and the degree of policy change, and more precisely, of foreign influences on domestic policy making processes. Our main hypothesis is that there is a knowledge path dependency in national educational systems. In other words, some choices made about the pieces and the forms of knowledge at the basis of an evaluation tool may strongly predetermine the subsequent forms of new knowledge productions, their institutionalisation making always more difficult to abandon the initial choices.
The factors at the origin of these self-reinforcement processes may be cognitive of course (such as the cognitive properties of the evaluation tools themselves or the cognitive routines of actors) but not only (political, institutional, professional and organisational factors also matter). In that perspective, we assume that foreign evidence can not really reorient this knowledge production, so that it seems difficult to talk about a “transfer” or a “borrowing”. Yet it seems that it provides national evaluators with a cognitive alternative possibility that they can accumulate in a stock of options that they are more or less likely to mobilise in specific policy contexts when their professional identity and skills are challenged.
Pons, X. (2010) Evaluer l'action éducative. Des professionels en concurrence. Paris: PUF. Buisson-Fenet, H. & Pons, X. (2011) Les pratiques d'évaluation externe des établissements scolaires en France, au Royaume-Uni et en Suisse. Créteil: Largotec.
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