Orienting Teachers to High Stakes Data: The Increasing Role of Edubusinesses in Schools

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Nerida SPINA, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
The rise of major edubusinesses such as Pearson and multi-national entities such as the OECD are increasingly the focus of academic attention.  Large-scale testing is often used to manufacture educational crises that create opportunities for those who are offering a “magic cure”(Taubman, 2009).  The emergence of private-public networks (e.g., Hogan, 2014) demonstrates the links between high-stakes testing, accountability and edubusiness networks.  However, less is known about how this phenomenon is orchestrating what occurs at the local level.    This paper explicates how assessment products produced by edubusineses are now embedded within schools, and are central to teachers’ work.  Research data is drawn from two Australian schools – a primary and a secondary school – where teachers were interviewed about their use of various forms of data.  What was common across both schools was a reorientation of teachers’ work towards the production and analysis of student achievement data, most commonly in basic skills literacy.    A somewhat surprising finding was the proliferation of proprietary products that were used at both schools to assess students, but which were all oriented towards school improvement on large scale national testing.  This work is coordinated by the temporal demands of testing, and fills teachers’ time with work that is oriented towards the demands of high stakes testing.  This requirement to collect increasing amounts of data ignores the fact that ultimately, time is finite.  The “rhetoric of quantification” (Porter, 1994) did not always provide opportunities to improve the quality of curriculum and pedagogy, rather in bracketed out significant amounts of time that might otherwise have been spent on producing context-specific and engaging pedagogies. When edubusinesses become entwined with high stakes testing, practices within schools are constrained, and restrict time available for teachers to address disadvantage, social justice or provide a curricula that extends beyond basic literacy and numeracy.