In the last decades, most countries have adopted data-intensive policy instruments aimed at modernizing the governance of education systems, and strengthening their competitiveness.Instruments such as national large-scale assessments and test-based accountabilities have disseminated widely, to the point that they are being enacted in countries with very different administrative traditions and levels of economic development. Nonetheless, comparative research on the trajectories that governance instruments follow in different institutional and socioeconomic contexts is still scarce. On the basis of a systematic literature review (n = 158), this paper enquires into the scope and modalities of educational governance change that national large scale assessments and test-based accountability instruments have triggered in a broad range of institutional settings. The paper shows that, internationally, educational governance reforms advance through path-dependent and contingent processes of policy instrumentation that are markedly conditioned by prevailing politico-administrative regimes. The paper also reflects on the additive and evolving nature of educational governance reforms.
The Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is expanding internationally and reaching countries that seemed to be immune to this education reform approach until quite recently. Accordingly, more and more educational systems in the world are articulated around three main policy principles: accountability, standards and decentralisation. National large-scale assessments (NLSAs) are a core component of the GERM; these assessments are increasingly used for accountability purposes as well as to ensure that schools achieve and promote centrally defined and evaluable learning standards. In this paper, we explore these trends on the basis of a new and original database on NLSAs, as well as on data coming from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) questionnaires. In the paper we also discuss how different theories on policy dissemination/globalisation explain the international spread of NLSAs and test-based accountability worldwide, and reflect on the potential of a political sociology approach to analyse this globalising phenomenon.
This article introduces the special issue “Global Perspectives on High-Stakes Teacher Accountability Policies”. The aim of the special issue is to provide insights into a diverse set of policies focusing on teachers’ accountability, including the underpinning ideas and cultural and socio-economic contexts of these policies, as well as their effects on teachers’ work, the teaching profession and the broader educational environment. While these articles highlight the influence of the “global testing culture” on education systems world-wide, they also demonstrate the need for understanding accountability systems as context-specific. As such, we urge scholars to consider the social, historical, political and geographical contexts within which their research is situated and to promote a research agenda that looks at the specific responses and effects that accountability policies produce in different regulatory settings. This introductory article, first, clarifies the main focus and conceptual framework of the special issue and, second, presents an overview of the papers included in the issue and their main contents.