Schools in the media: framing national standardized testing in the Norwegian press, 2004–2018

In the education sector, media outlets have been increasingly active
in reporting on standardized testing. The purpose of this paper is to
identify the most recurrent discursive frames used by the
Norwegian regional and local press when informing their readers
about national standardized testing, and to explore whether
differences over time and across geographical localities exist in
the pervasiveness of frames. Our analysis is guided by framing
theory, and builds on a corpus of 3,046 articles that focus on
national testing, published by 155 Norwegian regional and local
newspapers between 2004 and 2018. The analysis identifies four
different discursive frames within Norwegian press coverage,
namely the frame of ‘performance’, ‘transparency and
empowerment’, ‘misinterpretation and misuse’, and ‘criticism’.
The four frames convey highly distinct causal and normative
beliefs and realities about national standardized testing. While
the dominance of the frames varies over time and across
Norwegian counties, the frame of ‘performance’ is increasingly
pervasive, something that potentially contributes to naturalize
performative-oriented reporting and competition in education.
The study highlights the importance of systematic media analyses
to identify circulating principle beliefs on education, and of not
limiting research to national newspapers in order to grasp
geographical variation in media coverage.