The struggle to technicise in education policy
- 277 Downloads
In contemporary education policy, simplified technical accounts of policy problems and solutions are being produced with the use of numeric calculations. These calculations are seen as clear and unbiased, capable of revealing “what works” and identifying “best practices.” In this piece, the authors use resources from the material-semiotic approach of actor-network theory to discuss how calculations have begun to serve as a subtle infrastructure underpinning the way we understand and organise our world. They demonstrate the usefulness of the approach in tracing the technicisation of policy by deploying it to qualitative studies of like-school comparisons in the two unexpectedly linked locations—New York City and Australia. The authors reveal how technical accounts are precarious and need constant maintenance to endure, even as they increasingly becoming routine, curtailing the policy imagination and limiting the spaces of contestation. It is for this reason, they argue, that a deeper understanding and sustained critique of such accounts is of pressing importance.
KeywordsEducation policy Actor-network theory Accountability Transparency
- Angus, M. (2011). Rewarding “great” teachers? Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://www.appa.asn.au/index.php/principals-voice/performance-pay-160511.
- Attard, M. (2008). Joel Klein, New York City Schools Chancellor. Retrieved July 14, 2010 from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/08/28/2348955.htm.
- Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., & Barthe, Y. (2001). Acting in an uncertain world:An essay on technical democracy (G. Burchell, Trans.). Cambridge, MI: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Cramer, P. (2009). Duncan: NYC reform initiatives a model for stimuls spending. Gotham Schools. http://gothamschools.org/2009/02/19/duncan-nyc-reform-initiatives-a-model-for-stimulus-spending/. Accessed 1 March 2009.
- Ewing, J. (2011). Mathematical intimidation: Driven by the data. Notices of the AMS, 58(5), 667–673.Google Scholar
- Gale, T., & Lingard, B. (Eds.). (2010). Educational research by association: AARE presidential addresses and the field of educational research. Rotterdam: Sense.Google Scholar
- Gillard, J. (2008). Speech. Paper presented at the ACER Research Conference. Retrieved from https://ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/acer-research-conference.
- Jasanoff, S. (2005). Designs on nature: Science and democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Klenowski, V. (2009). Raising the stakes: The challenges for teacher assessment. http://publications.aare.edu.au/09pap/kle091607.pdf. Accessed 1 Jan 2010.
- Lather, P. (2005). Scientism and scientificity in the rage for accountability: A feminist deconstruction. Paper presented at the First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Mandinah, E. B., Rivas, L., Light, D., Heinze, C., & Honey, M. (2006). The impact of data-driven decision making tools on educational practice: A systems analysis of six school districts. Paper presented at the American Edcuational Research Assocation Annual Meeting.Google Scholar
- Ministers' Media Centre (2008a). Transparency, national literacy and numeracy, National Curriculum. Retrieved August 15, 2008 from http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/transparency-national-literacy-and-numeracy-national-curriculum
- Ministers' Media Centre (2008b). Speech: Leading transformational change in schools. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/leading-transformational-change-schools.
- Ministers' Media Centre (2008c). Radio interview 4BC School transparency agenda, rewarding quality teaching. Media Release. Retrieved August 15, 2008 from http://www.ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/school-transparency-agenda-rewarding-quality-teaching
- Ministers' Media Centre (2010). National press club address: Delivering the education revolution. Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/delivering-education-revolution-0.
- Mulgan, G. (2003). Government, knowledge and the business of policy-making. National Institute of Governance Conference, Facing the Future, Canberra, April 23–24.Google Scholar
- Porter, T. (2003). Measurement, objectivity, and trust. Measurement, 1(4), 241–255.Google Scholar
- Power, M. (1997). The audit society: Rituals of verification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Rudd, K. (2007). Campaign launch speech, 14 November. Brisbane.Google Scholar