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Evaluating the global testing culture: A response to Ramirez and colleagues

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    Rights statement: Accepted for publication to Comparative Education Review. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/701024

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https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/701024
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Education Review
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

Abstract

The recently published article by Ramirez and colleagues (2018), “International Tests, National Assessments, and Educational Development (1970–2012),” is unique in using panel data from more than four decades to evaluate the potential negative consequences of assessment. Central to their analysis is recent work on the global testing culture (Smith 2016 a), demonstrated in the overarching research question, “Does a global testing culture dominate the global educational regime to the detriment of educational outcomes favored by most reformers and generally regarded as progress?”(Ramirez et al. 2018, 349). While acknowledging the presence of a global testing culture, the authors conclude that their findings “do not support these dire predictions” (344) of testing critics. Instead of negative outcomes, they find no relationship between the number of international and national assessments countries partake in and measures of secondary school enrollment and gender parity, and a positive association between international assessments and outcomes at the tertiary level. In addition, greater participation in international tests is related to more progressive content in social science textbooks. As a testing critic, I do not consider these findings at all surprising.While Ramirez and colleagues expand our understanding of world culture more generally, they do not effectively evaluate the concerns from those worried about the global testing culture. As I suggest in this response, the test categories and outcome variables chosen in this analysis fail to capture key parts of such arguments. In the following sections, I clarify the global testing culture and its associated critiques before suggesting fruitful areas for future research.

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