'It's not the test, it's how it's used'!' Critical analysis of public response to NAPLAN and MySchool senate inquiry

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Abstract

Public education is commonly perceived as a social good endowed with the capacity to equalise western citizens' chance of 'success'. In 2008 Australia introduced standardised testing and reporting procedures to improve educational quality and equity through two policy tools (NAPLAN/MySchool). Ensuing public debate culminated in two Senate Inquiries. Qualitative critical analysis of all (N = 268) submissions to Inquiry One evidenced two major themes: marketisation and data (mis)use; and competition, commodification and practice. Marketisation's hegemony shaped discourse and recommendations, with institutions and individuals promoting/engaging in self-aggrandising performance-driven activities seeking market advantage, often whilst simultaneously objecting. Submissions largely opposed MySchool and supported NAPLAN despite detailing maladaptive impacts and recommending changes. Drawing upon Latour, we suggest actors' interactions with these tools (re)produced and re-enacted marketisation principles. Where marketisation, commodification or political rhetoric drives educational change, one ought to be cautious authentic approaches are not truncated by stakeholders lacking legitimate means to compete for resources or social status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-286
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume38
Issue number3
Early online dateSep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Apr 2017

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