28 SES 09 A, Recomposing School by Standards, Accountability and Improvement
In recent year test and measurement has gained a strong position in education. PISA results, league tables, etc. has from a neoliberal perspective created a discourse about a school in crisis (Popkewitz, 2011; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). At the same time a growing edu-market (Ball, 2012) with a free school market and homework companies has entered the educational landscape. Education has traditionally in Sweden been a state issue, however this has changed dramatically. This has led to a re-territorialisation of educational responsibility (Tröhler, 2009) where e.g. private school are taken for granted and a growing number of so called home work companies providing families help with home works. Following the traces of Popkewitz and Wehlage’s (1973) discussion on accountability, this paper briefly describes ongoing research that intend to unfold and disassemble processes of accountability in the intersection between family, education, and the free school market; homework companies.
This paper starts out in the societal desire of a more effective schooling where measurements and testing are used to track knowledge production (Rizvi and Lingard, 2010), i.e. the “enthusiasm for accountability that grows out of the sense of frustration and impatience in accomplishing basic educational goals” (Popkewitz and Wehlage, 1973, p. 48). This turns education into school credentials which in turn enables processes of who to hold accountable (Labaree, 2008). Therefore I claim processes and materialization of accountability are of special interest. In a time when “development of measurable objectives is the sine qua non of accountability” (Popkewitz and Wehlage, 1973, p.49) the notion of accountability serves as “a potent vehicle of expression” (ibid, p. 48) and a vehicle of analyse.
The overarching aim of the ongoing research is therefore to unfold and disassemble processes of accountability in a changing educational landscape in Sweden. More specific, this paper reports on research how accountability is flowing, moving, translated, negotiated and materialised in practises of homework companies.
Following Nespor’s (2002) research on homework and Fenwick’s (2010b) view on ANT as a possibility of researching education I will use ANT as theoretical and methodological frameworks. Briefly, the main idea with ANT is that ideas, practices and facts are effects of assemblages and webs of relations between (human and non-human) actors (Gorur 2011). ANT does not privilege the human, actors can be both animate and/or inanimate and treats social relations, including power and organization, as network effects. Likewise several researchers, I will treat networks as assemblages of heterogeneous materials such as videos, written curricula, utterances, people, building, reports (Edwards, 2002). In intersections (such as practices of homework companies), or following the construct of Latour (2005) and Fenwick (2011); in nodes, it is possible to trace interactions, negotiations, and translations to explore how not only actions, but also power and truths comes into being. ANT therefore offers one way of tracing dynamics of assembling and disassembling, embodiment and materialising processes, often unmentioned or considered unintentional in education (Fenwick and Edwards, 2012).
Regarding accountability processes, Fenwick and Edwards (2012) has pinpointed the notion in relation to ANT. They claim for example that “ANT concepts help to trace important nuances in these processes, showing how they actually function as messy networks folded into spaces alongside other networks, and how injunctions of accountability are negotiated at different nodes of these networks“ (ibid, p.115). In addition, researching humans and non-human simultaneously becomes important in this research since there is a risk that students “internalise these forms of self-regulation through representations of their performance … actors make themselves into calculable subjects (ibid, p.115).
Ball, S. (2012). Global Education Inc.: New policy networks and the neoliberal imaginary. London: Routledge. Edwards, R. (2002) Mobilizing lifelong learning: governmentality in educational practices, Journal of Education Policy, 17(3), pp. 353-365, Fenwick, T (2010a) (un)Doing standards in education with actor‐network theory, Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), pp. 117-133 Fenwick, T. (2010b). Accountability practices in adult education: Insights from actor-network theory. Studies in the Education of Adults, Vol. 42, Issue 2. Fenwick, T (2011) Reading Educational Reform with Actor Network Theory: Fluid otherings, and ambivalences, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(1), 114-134. Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (red.) (2012). Researching Education Through Actor-network Theory. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (UK) Gorur, R. (2011). ANT on the PISA Trail: Following the statistical pursuit of certainty. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(1), 76-93. Gorur, R. (2013). The invisible infrastructure of standards. Critical Studies in Education, 54(2), pp. 132- 142. Labaree, D. (2008). The winning ways of a losing strategy: Educationalizing social problems in the United States. Educational Theory, 58(4), pp 447-460. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nespor, J. 2002. Networks and contexts of reform. Journal of Educational Change 3, pp. 365–82. Popkewitz, T. (2011). PISA. In M. A. Pereyra, H.G. Kotthoff & R. Cowen (Eds.), PISA Under Examination: Changing Knowledge, Changing Tests, and Changing Schools (pp. 31-46). Sense Publishers. Popkewitz, T. & G. Wehlage. (1973). Accountability: Critique and alternative perspective. Interchange 4(4), pp 48-62. Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2010). Globalizing education policy. London: Routledge. Tröhler, D. (2009): Harmonizing the Educational Globe. World Polity, Cultural Features, and the Challenges to Educational Research. Studies in Philosophy and Education 29, 7–29.
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