Historicizing and contextualizing global policy discourses: Test- and standards-based accountabilities in education


  • Bob Lingard, PhD University of Queensland


contemporary education policy, education policy discourse, student performance, performance testing, high-stakes testing


This paper in commenting on the contributions to this special number
demonstrates the necessity of historicizing and contextualizing the rise
of test- and standards-based modes of accountability in contemporary
education policy globally. Both are imperative for understanding specific
national manifestations of what has become a globalized educational
policy discourse, namely, that such modes of accountability will
drive up student performance and thus enhance the global economic
competitiveness of nations. New modes of testing might be seen as a newold
system, given the provenance of testing in schooling systems. The
paper will argue that there are global and national elements to this policy
situation, with national and global testing of students and school systems
sitting in symbiotic relationships with each other. It will also be argued
that high-stakes testing has become a fourth message system of schooling
that steers today the practices of schools and teachers in classrooms,
often with reductive anti-educational effects. Comment will also be
made about how these educational developments fit within the broader
structure of feeling and how they open up possibilities for edu-businesses
to take an increasing role in policy.