The Laboratory of International Assessment Studies normally holds an international symposium each year. This year, because of Covid-19, we will hold an international webinar series.
Even in ordinary times, 2020 would be the kind of date to inspire reflection, as the start of a new decade and as a reminder that there are a mere 10 years left to achieve the ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It represents two decades over which the influence of international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) has grown dramatically, particularly with the rise of the OECD’s PISA, and the establishment of ILSA techniques and comparisons as a global policy force aiming to put an end to ‘learning poverty’. Over the last 20 years, ILSAs have promoted international comparisons, pioneered new digital technologies, and included new assessment domains. Their continued rise and their centrality to educational policy and practices of the future looked certain. But COVID-19 has upended everything, including the ways that we view the future of education. This, then, is a suitable moment to pause and reset, to consider what has been achieved, and what might come next – to develop a new form of ‘2020 vision’.
As countries close their borders to protect themselves and re-align their policy priorities, speculation about the end of globalisation as we knew it are rife. The techniques and metaphysics that underpinned the influential ‘hard’ sciences of statistics and economics have revealed themselves to be fallible. Long-held, market-based economic theories of growth and consumption, unscathed by mounting evidence of inequality and ecological damage now look vulnerable. The statistical practices of ILSAs that previously gave us such confidence to make projections about the future now serve to highlight the difficulty in predicting even the coming weeks. There may be no ‘post-COVID’ world anytime soon: like AIDS, the COVID virus may evade attempts to eradicate it, confronting us with new economic challenges. Socially distanced teaching and assessment may be here to stay in one form or another. Most importantly, COVID has revealed the extent of inequalities and differences between and within nations.
In the face of all this upheaval, what is the relevance of international comparisons? How are pandemic conditions affecting confidence in the predictive power of statistical data and the practical work and organisation of ILSAs in future assessment rounds? Is thinking and planning at a global scale feasible or desirable? How useful do international comparative measures look when set alongside the local contexts and geographies that are reasserting themselves: economic inequalities, social divisions and local educational practices that interact with pandemic effects?
In this webinar series, the Laboratory of International Assessment Studies, together with Deakin University’s strategic research centre Research for Educational Impact (REDI) and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI), engages in conversations with leading experts in the field to explore these and other questions in a series of discussions about how international assessments may change as a result of pandemic conditions and priorities.
Do Global Education Reform Agendas and Strategies Require Re-Framing in Light of COVID-19?
Webinar 1 was held on Monday 2 November 2020. You can watch the recording on our Videos page.
Global Citizenship Amid the Pandemic: Reflections on the PISA 2018 Global Competence Results
Webinar 2 was held on Wednesday 9 December 2020. You can watch the recording on our Videos page.
Innovators in Large-Scale Assessment
Webinar 2 was held on Tuesday 26 January 2021. You can watch the recording on our Videos page.
Save the date for our final webinar: 22 September 2021, 10.30 am CEST (UTC +2)
The Lumpy Market and ‘The Halo Effect’: Contracting and Expanding in ILSAs
Date: To Be Confirmed
Convenor: Mary Hamilton, Lancaster University
Keynote: Camilla Addey, Marie Curie Research Fellow, Globalisation, Education and Social Policies, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
Respondent: Antoni Verger, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA).
How do contractors shape ILSAs? Based on an empirical study of the contractors involved in the OECD and IEA ILSAs since the 1990s, this keynote will focus on a rather crystalized group of contractors which develop, administer and analyse ILSAs. The presentation will analyse: how the ILSA market emerged and operates, the structural nature of the ILSA market, the effects of the interrelationships amongst contractors, and how the interests of the contractors shape the dynamics of the ILSA market. For example, the presentation will ask: how does the fact that ILSAs represent an investment for contractors – who benefit in return from the PISA halo effect and global business stage – shape ILSAs? The presentation aims to shed light on the global business dynamics that international education accountability mechanisms have generated and understand how these affect education.