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The Rise of Data in Education Systems
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Comparative Histories of Education

The Rise of Data in Education Systems

collection, visualization and use

Edited by MARTIN LAWN

2013 paperback 160 pages, £34.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-32-8
https://doi.org/10.15730/books.86

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About the book

The growth of education systems and the construction of the state have always been connected. The processes of governing education systems always utilized data through a range of administrative records, pupil testing, efficiency surveys and international projects. By the late twentieth century, quantitative data had gained enormous influence in education systems through the work of the OECD, the European Commission and national system agencies. The creation and flow of data has become a powerful governing tool in education. Comparison between pupils, costs, regions and states has grown ever more important.

The visualization of this data, and its range of techniques, has changed over time, especially in its movement from an expert to a public act. Data began to be explained to a widening audience to shape its behaviours and its institutions. 

The use of data in education systems and the procedures by which the data are constructed has not been a major part of the study of education, nor of the histories of education systems. This volume of contributions, drawn from different times and spaces in education, will be a useful contribution to comparative historical studies.

Contents [Please click on author name for summary]

Martin Lawn The Rise of Data in Education, 7-10

Mrtin Lawn The Internationalization of Education Data: exhibitions, tests, standards and associations, 11-25

Marcelo Caruso Policing Validity and Reliability: expertise, data accumulation and data parallelisation in Bavaria, 1873 1919, 27-39

Noah W. Sobe Educational Data at Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century International Expositions: ‘accomplished results’ and ‘instruments and apparatuses’, 41-56

Joakim Landahl, Christian Lundahl (Mis-)Trust in Numbers: shape shifting and directions in the modern history of data in Swedish educational reform, 57-78

Ian Grosvenor, Siân Roberts Systems and Subjects: ordering, differentiating and institutionalising the modern urban child, 79-96

Inés Dussel Counting, Describing, Interpreting: a study on early school census in Argentina, 1880-1900, 97-115

Joyce Goodman Visualising Girls’ Secondary Education in Interwar Europe: Amélie Arató’s L’Enseignement secondaire des jeunes filles en Europe, 117-138

Romuald Normand Governing Population: the emergence of a political arithmetic of inequalities in education. A Comparison between the United Kingdom and France, 139-157

Notes on Contributors, 159-160

The Rise of Data in Education
Martin Lawn

Introduction

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The Internationalization of Education Data: exhibitions, tests, standards and associations
Mrtin Lawn

Nation-states and their regions began to produce education data from the mid 1850s or thereabouts, often under pressure from the need to produce data for the World Exhibitions to accompany their displays. The growth of data – its range and depth – began in the twentieth century and reflected breakthroughs in testing and the related complex statistical operations used to manage and understand the resultant data. In some ways, the USA was the leader in this work but when international comparative projects began in the post-war period, newer entrants into the field created the leading edge. Governing education systems began to change and older administrative or agent-based evaluations were dislocated by the arrival of large-scale international surveys.

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Policing Validity and Reliability: expertise, data accumulation and data parallelisation in Bavaria, 1873 1919
Marcelo Caruso

Data becomes particularly ‘informative’ when actors consider validity and reliability as given facts. In this contribution, the disputes over these two dimensions of ‘data’ are credited as being major forces in its exponential growth. In the context of power struggles between emerging professional groups, liberal governance, and cleric school inspectors, the multiplication of data in the Kingdom of Bavaria during the Second Empire was an outcome of challenged legitimacies. This resulted in the parallelisation of processes of data collection and accumulation and, correspondingly, in a major drive towards the growth of data.

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Educational Data at Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century International Expositions: ‘accomplished results’ and ‘instruments and apparatuses’
Noah W. Sobe

This chapter proposes that the education exhibits at international expositions (or world’s fairs) played a significant role in the rise of data in education. Exhibits were carefully executed presentations of a country’s education system and examining this history sheds light on many of the tensions and issues that surround the production and circulation of education data today.

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(Mis-)Trust in Numbers: shape shifting and directions in the modern history of data in Swedish educational reform
Joakim Landahl, Christian Lundahl

In this chapter the authors explore the uses and meanings of data in Swedish educational reform, practice and discourse from roughly the 1940s up to the present day. Their survey covers both national data and international data and includes quantitative as well as qualitative data. They start in the 1940s with two empirical examples that in a way show an antithetical attitude towards data. Travel accounts from America were based on a qualitative approach, and expressed the attitude that the schools studied were important because they were different, modern and inspiring. At roughly the same time, standardised testing was introduced as a technique of connecting the different parts of the school system and rationalising student admission processes. The consequences of this standardisation came under severe attack during the late 1960s and 1970s, resulting eventually in the introduction of a criterion-referenced grading system. Finally, the authors highlight the fact that the last few decades have seen the flourishing of such things as international assessment and school inspection, and there has been an increased emphasis on grades and testing. These examples illustrate that the meanings and techniques of data are objects of a continuous negotiation where sometimes even resistance towards measuring tends to be based on measurements.

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Systems and Subjects: ordering, differentiating and institutionalising the modern urban child
Ian Grosvenor, Siân Roberts

The chapter brings together two aspects of the modern experience: data gathering and the construction of the urban schooled child. It explores the ways in which knowledge about the urban child was created, collected, ordered and enlisted into the service of education (and welfare) policy making. The arguments presented here draw on data about the city of Birmingham, England.

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Counting, Describing, Interpreting: a study on early school census in Argentina, 1880-1900
Inés Dussel

The chapter analyzes the emergence of educational data in Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century. It focuses on the first educational census from 1883 to 1884 and the institutional history of educational statistics in that country, as well as on the peculiar trajectory of one of its leading figures, Francisco Latzina. Grounding on science studies and histories of statistics, it looks at the categories and narratives that were used in the census and adjacent reports. It presents the history of educational data as an institutional and epistemological production that, while nationally set, was part of an international network that brought forth a new language for understanding and governing education.

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Visualising Girls’ Secondary Education in Interwar Europe: Amélie Arató’s L’Enseignement secondaire des jeunes filles en Europe
Joyce Goodman

This chapter examines the diagrams of education systems in Amélie Arató’s study of girls’ secondary education, published in 1934 as L’Enseignement secondaire des jeunes filles en Europe. The author begins by tracing the strategies Arató employed to organise the comparative data in her account. She locates Arató’s use of visual representation in the context of the rise of educational and information sciences and their link to the practices of interwar cooperative internationalism at the International Bureau of Education in Geneva, which Arató visited in 1931 during the course of her research. The chapter concludes by discussing the contradictions inherent in Arató’s use of visualisations in a project to ‘progress’ education for women and girls; and the author concludes by pointing to the complexities of international comparative data for policy purposes in education.

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Governing Population: the emergence of a political arithmetic of inequalities in education. A Comparison between the United Kingdom and France
Romuald Normand

Based on a comparative perspective between the United Kingdom (UK) and France, the chapter explores an important historical period in the quantification of inequalities in education. It starts with a presentation of the genesis and the development of the UK political arithmetic of inequalities embedded in a eugenic orthodoxy and issues of population policy and politics. It shows how some tools and concepts have travelled from psychology to sociology and then from the UK to France. The explanation for the increase in data cannot be separated from considerations about the extension of the Welfare State, searching for a compromise between economical effectiveness and social justice. The reader is invited to discover some links between science and politics, and the role of policy borrowing and knowledge transfer in the building of quantitative sociology of education as a discipline and science of government.

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Notes on Contributors

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Contributors

Marcelo Caruso holds a degree in Educational Studies from the University of Buenos Aires, a PhD from the University of Munich and a habilitation from Humboldt University in Berlin. He is the Chair of History of Education at Humboldt University. He is one of the editors-in-chief of the German Yearbook for History of Education and a member of the editorial boards of Paedagogica Historica and the Zeitschrift für Pädagogik.

Inés Dussel is Professor and Researcher at the Department of Educational Research (DIE/CINVESTAV) in Mexico. She received her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a Senior Researcher at FLACSO/Argentina before moving to Mexico. She has worked on the history and theory of curriculum and pedagogy, and is currently doing research on the introduction of digital media in schools.

Joyce Goodman is Professor of History of Education, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Education, Health and Social Care at the University of Winchester. She is former editor of History of Education, past president of the History of Education Society and former secretary of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education. She has published widely on women and education. Her most recent books include Women and Education: major themes in education (Routledge, 2011, 4 volumes) with Jane Martin, and Girls’ Secondary Education in the Western World (Palgrave, 2010) with James Albisetti and Rebecca Rogers. Her current research focuses on empire and internationalism in girls’ schooling and the work of women in and for education.

Ian Grosvenor is Professor of Urban Educational History and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Joakim Landahl is a researcher at the Department of Education, Stockholm University. His research concentrates on the history of school discipline, childhood, the teaching profession, and relations between pupils and teachers. Currently he is working on the history of interaction rituals in classrooms.

Martin Lawn is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh. He is the editor of the European Educational Research Journal, academic journal of the European Educational Research Association. Recent books include: An Atlantic Crossing? The Work of the International Examinations Inquiry, its Researchers, Methods and Influence (Symposium Books, Comparative Histories of Education Series, 2008) and Modelling the Future: exhibitions and the materiality of education (Symposium Books, Comparative Histories of Education Series, 2009).

Christian Lundahl is Professor in Education at Karlstad University and Associate Professor at the Department of Education, Stockholm University. He specialises in the history of assessments, evaluation and Swedish educational research.

Romuald Normand is Associate Professor of Sociology of Education at the École Normale Supérieure, Lyon, France. He works on comparative education policies and politics, Europeanisation and lifelong learning, higher education and research, transformation of the state and New Public Management. He is a convenor of the Network 28 ‘Sociologies of European Education’ at the European Educational Research Association and member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Siân Roberts is Head of Collections Development at Birmingham Archives and Heritage and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Noah W. Sobe is Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago, where he specialises in the history of education and in comparative international education. He researches globalisation and accountability practices in education in both their present and historical forms. He is the author of Provincializing the Worldly Citizen: Yugoslav student and teacher travel in the inter-war era and editor of American Post-Conflict Education Reform: from the Spanish-American War to Iraq. He is the co-editor of the journal European Education.
 

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