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The Global Testing Culture
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Oxford Studies in Comparative Education

The Global Testing Culture

shaping education policy, perceptions, and practice

Edited by WILLIAM C. SMITH

2016 paperback 302 pages, £42.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-72-4
https://doi.org/10.15730/books.94

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About the book

The past thirty years have seen a rapid expansion of testing, exposing students worldwide to tests that are now, more than ever, standardized and linked to high-stakes outcomes. The use of testing as a policy tool has been legitimized within international educational development to measure education quality in the vast majority of countries worldwide. The embedded nature and normative power of high-stakes standardized testing across national contexts can be understood as a global testing culture. The global testing culture permeates all aspects of education, from financing, to parental involvement, to teacher and student beliefs and practices. The reinforcing nature of the global testing culture leads to an environment where testing becomes synonymous with accountability, which becomes synonymous with education quality.

Underlying the global testing culture is a set of values identified from the increasing literature on world culture. These include: education as a human right, academic intelligence, faith in science, decentralization, and neoliberalism. Each of these values highlights different aspects of the dialogue in support of high-stakes standardized testing. The wide approval of these values and their ability to legitimate various aspects of high-stakes testing reinforces the taken-for-granted notion that such tests are effective and appropriate education practices. However, a large body of literature emphasizes the negative unintended consequences – teaching to the test, reshaping the testing pool, the inequitable distribution of school resources and teachers’ attention, and reconstructing the role of the student, teacher, and parent – commonly found when standardized, census-based tests are combined with high-stakes outcomes for educators or students.

This book problematizes this culture by providing critical perspectives that challenge the assumptions of the culture and describe how the culture manifests in national contexts. The volume makes it clear that testing, per se, is not the problem. Instead it is how tests are administered, used or misused, and linked to accountability that provide the global testing culture with its powerful ability to shape schools and society and lead to its unintended, undesirable consequences.

Contents [Please click on author name for summary]

William C. Smith An Introduction to the Global Testing Culture, 7-23

THE GLOBAL TESTING CULTURE AND THE INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AGENDA

D. Brent Edwards Jr A Perfect Storm: the political economy of community-based management, teacher accountability and impact evaluations in El Salvador and the global reform agenda, 25-42

Rie Kijima, Jane Leer Legitimacy, State-building and Contestation in Education Policy Development: Chile's involvement in cross-national assessments, 43-61

Hilla Aurén, Devin Joshi Teaching the World that Less is More: global education testing and the Finnish national brand, 63-83

Ji Liu Student Achievement and PISA Rankings: policy effects or cultural explanations?, 85-99

Angeline M. Barrett Measuring Learning Outcomes and Education for Sustainable Development: the new education development goal, 101-114

Karen E. Andreasen, Christian Ydesen The International Space of the Danish Testing Community in the Post-war Years, 115-130

THE ABSENCE OF FORMATIVE TESTING AND THE POLITICS OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Sumera Ahsan, William C. Smith Facilitating Student Learning: a comparison of classroom and accountability assessment, 131-151

Renáta Tichá, Brian Abery Beyond the Large-scale Testing of Basic Skills: using formative assessment to facilitate student learning, 153-169

Anthony Somerset Questioning across the Spectrum: pedagogy, selection examinations and assessment systems in low-income countries, 171-191

Sean W. Mulvenon, Sandra G. Bowman An Evaluation of How the 'Policies of K-12 Testing' Impact the Effectiveness of Global Testing Programs, 193-212

Mariam Orkodashvili How Much Stakes for Tests? Public Schooling, Private Tutoring and Equilibrium, 213-229

THE GLOBAL TESTING CULTURE IN NATIONAL CONTEXT

Kristine Kousholt, Bjørn Hamre Testing and School Reform in Danish Education: an analysis informed by the use of 'the dispositive', 231-247

Pearl J. Chung, Hyeonwoo Chea South Korea's Accountability Policy System and National Achievement Test, 249-260

David Balwanz The Discursive Hold of the Matric: is there space for a new vision for secondary education in South Africa?, 261-278

Tracey Burns, Patrick Blanchenay, Florian Köster Horizontal Accountability, Municipal Capacity and the Use of Data: a case study of Sweden, 279-294

Notes on Contributors, 297-302

An Introduction to the Global Testing Culture
William C. Smith

The global testing culture permeates all areas of education, reconceptualizing the role of educational actors, the aims of education, and the accepted practices of education, as well as the general position of education in society. Characterized by census-based standardized testing with links to high-stakes outcomes, the global testing culture can be seen in the expansion of testing and accountability systems around the world and the increasingly ‘common-sense’ notion that testing is synonymous with accountability, which is synonymous with education quality. This chapter describes the foundational attributes, including the core assumptions, values, and cultural models, that define the normative expectations of actors in the global testing culture. The final section introduces the rest of the volume, which seeks to explore how the global testing culture is embedded in and reinforced by policy and practices of stakeholders at all levels, and to provide case studies exploring the incorporation of testing in national contexts.

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THE GLOBAL TESTING CULTURE AND THE INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AGENDA

A Perfect Storm: the political economy of community-based management, teacher accountability and impact evaluations in El Salvador and the global reform agenda
D. Brent Edwards Jr

During the 1990s and 2000s, a policy known as Education with Community Participation (EDUCO) not only became the cornerstone of education reform in El Salvador but also became a global education policy, one which is known for instituting teacher accountability by decentralizing to rural families the responsibility for hiring and firing them. As is shown in this chapter, the rise to fame of EDUCO was not only a product of the particular political-economic context in which it was born, but was also a product of the (erroneous) impact evaluations produced by the World Bank, which served as the evidence base through which this and other international institutions could legitimately promote the EDUCO model, a model which has helped to extend outcomes-based accountability for teachers.

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Legitimacy, State-building and Contestation in Education Policy Development: Chile's involvement in cross-national assessments
Rie Kijima, Jane Leer

Participation in cross-national assessments (CNAs) has grown exponentially over the last 50 years. This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of one country’s participation in CNAs: Chile, one of the first non-OECD countries to participate in CNAs. Through interviews with Chilean education policy officials, the authors explore the global and domestic factors influencing the Chilean government’s decision to participate in CNAs. They find that Chile participates in CNAs in order to compare the country’s education performance with other countries, build institutional capacity, align the curriculum with international standards and improve public accountability. They argue that these findings are best explained by compensatory legitimization theory, whereby the State participates in CNAs in order to improve state legitimacy. By analyzing Chile’s involvement in CNAs, these findings contribute to an understanding of the historical, political, socioeconomic and educational contexts that influence a country’s decision to participate in CNAs – above and beyond simply measuring the quality of education.

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Teaching the World that Less is More: global education testing and the Finnish national brand
Hilla Aurén, Devin Joshi

Finland’s impressive performance on international education tests has led to considerable interest in Finland’s education model and education-related exports. Moreover, Finland stands out because it has completely eschewed a disciplinary testing culture involving high-stakes standardised testing in basic education. Rather, as the authors argue in this chapter, Finland’s long-lasting educational success has been achieved by means of a supportive testing culture emphasising educational equality. They analyse this development through in-depth interviews with Finnish education experts and systematic content analysis of global media reports covering Finland since the year 2000. The evidence reveals that through international testing Finland has successfully developed a positive global reputation in education, which has enhanced its national brand and demand for its educational exports. However, the successful adoption of Finnish educational practices outside Finland appears to depend on the extent to which others are willing to embrace equality as a means and end of education.

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Student Achievement and PISA Rankings: policy effects or cultural explanations?
Ji Liu

A central assumption underlying international large-scale testing, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), is that cross-national variation in student test scores is attributable to national policy environments. This assumption, coined as PISA reasoning, has taken center stage at the heart of the global testing culture. Feniger and Lefstein’s (2014) critical analysis of this assumption suggests that cultural and historical background may be a more powerful alternative explanation. This chapter presents important limitations to the current dichotomous debate in two major ways. First, by adding school fixed effects, the effects of cultural origin were reduced by half, indicating that the country-of-origin effect is taking credit for school-level variances. Second, findings from an exhaustive list of origin–destination pairs indicate an inconsistent pattern cross-nationally, and suggest that prior results may not be generalizable to global student achievement patterns.

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Measuring Learning Outcomes and Education for Sustainable Development: the new education development goal
Angeline M. Barrett

The education Sustainable Development Goal for 2015-2030 will be the first development goal to include targets for learning outcomes. The prevalent global culture of testing has acted to promote standardised measures of literacy and numeracy as the preferred tools for monitoring learning globally. These are not sufficient to the task of ensuring education quality for all, as understood from a social justice perspective. They also do little to promote the kind of social learning that is integral to sustainable development. This chapter contrasts the learning agenda within Education for All with a broader conceptualisation of education quality offered by social justice perspectives and key ideas on learning in the literature on education for sustainable development.

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The International Space of the Danish Testing Community in the Post-war Years
Karen E. Andreasen, Christian Ydesen

International forums and organisations, as well as non-governmental organisations, have played a considerable role in societal developments since the end of World War II. Many changes in post-war Danish public schools, such as standardised educational testing, were formed in dialogue with or initiated in such forums or organisations. This chapter explores the importance of these connections by focusing on the period from 1945 to around 1990 – that is, from the end of World War II, when Danish education was characterised by a high degree of national unity as a contrast to the strife of the inter-war years, and up to the end of the Cold War. Exploring the transnational angle is a highly relevant and interesting research topic because it contributes to a deeper understanding of the origin, development and design of Danish school policy and school practice, and the influence from transnational spaces.

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THE ABSENCE OF FORMATIVE TESTING AND THE POLITICS OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Facilitating Student Learning: a comparison of classroom and accountability assessment
Sumera Ahsan, William C. Smith

Student learning should be a central feature in any educational activity. Drawing from the social constructivist learning theory and the work of Vygotsky, this chapter explores the type of assessment most likely to facilitate student learning by comparing classroom assessments with accountability assessments. The comparison makes it clear that classroom assessments have space for the spontaneous social interaction necessary for learning, while accountability assessments tend to be independent isolated activities. Through engagement with teachers and opportunities for self-reflection, students taking classroom assessments are better able to connect the assessment with their socio-historical context and teachers are able to adapt assessment prompts to make them culturally relevant to their students. Accountability assessments, on the other hand, tend to be monolithic in origin, lacking the flexibility to capture cultural differences. Although accountability assessments may be able to address secondary educational goals, such as efficiency or identifying demographic trends, we fear that real student learning will wither away in a global testing culture where classroom assessments are reduced, accountability assessments entrenched, and learning superseded by achievement.

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Beyond the Large-scale Testing of Basic Skills: using formative assessment to facilitate student learning
Renáta Tichá, Brian Abery

Assessment is an integral part of educational accountability at the local, national and international level. Educational assessment can have many forms and be administered for a variety of purposes. This chapter outlines the characteristics and functions of summative and formative assessment, two key assessment types in education. The authors point out the strengths and limitations of each of the assessment types and discuss a recent trend of ‘adapting’ formative assessments for use as screening tools of basic skills administered to large numbers of students. The chapter concludes with recommendations focused on the use of assessments for the purposes for which they were intended and the need to validate assessments for implementation in local contexts to monitor teacher instruction and student learning.

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Questioning across the Spectrum: pedagogy, selection examinations and assessment systems in low-income countries
Anthony Somerset

This chapter presents an overview of the spectrum of contexts in which questioning is employed to assess student learning, ranging from the grassroots level of the classroom to the central level of the national examinations authority and the national or international assessment agency. The respective roles of formative and summative questioning are compared, and an example of the effective use of formative questioning in the development of problem-solving skills discussed. Following an analysis of the negative backwash effects of low-quality, high-stakes selection examinations on the quality of classroom pedagogy, the chapter concludes with suggestions as to how various initiatives, across the full assessment spectrum, could contribute to the strengthening of student learning, in low-income countries especially.

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An Evaluation of How the 'Policies of K-12 Testing' Impact the Effectiveness of Global Testing Programs
Sean W. Mulvenon, Sandra G. Bowman

A culture of testing has evolved globally as societies focus on education as a method to expand opportunities for all students and strengthen local economies. A common metric used to evaluate student achievement, teacher effectiveness and school systems as part of these efforts has been through an expanded use of standardized exams and testing. The use of standardized exams has both advocates and critics, but an element missing in the discussion is the impact of educational policies implemented in support of testing and accountability programs. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a narrative of the role of educational policies on testing programs and their impact on our global testing culture.

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How Much Stakes for Tests? Public Schooling, Private Tutoring and Equilibrium
Mariam Orkodashvili

This chapter analyzes the influence of stakes on tests and examinations. It reveals that when public schooling is poor or unsatisfactory, the stage at which students resort to private tutoring may affect TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) results. If tutoring starts at an early stage, TIMSS and PIRLS scores may be a by-product of the intensive preparation for high stakes examinations. If tutoring happens at a later stage, the results of TIMSS and PIRLS are low. Therefore, depending on the school grade at which high-stakes examinations appear, in a number of countries, students increasingly resort to private tutoring to succeed at school, or at university or college entry examinations; hence, the influence on international projects can be vividly observed.

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THE GLOBAL TESTING CULTURE IN NATIONAL CONTEXT

Testing and School Reform in Danish Education: an analysis informed by the use of 'the dispositive'
Kristine Kousholt, Bjørn Hamre

This chapter is in two parts, consisting of both the theoretical development of Foucault’s concept of the dispositive and an analysis of documents concerning national standardised tests and school reform in the Danish primary and lower secondary school. The Danish national standardised tests are recently implemented in the school system with different political ambitions. We argue that the tests are a crucial new form of assessment among others based on their adaptive character and of the political intentions connected to them. The article stems from an ambition to contribute with an adequate critique of the tests and related discourses. This is done by reading documents related to the national test through the dispositives (‘dispositive’ is a Foucauldian term for a rationale of power) of discipline, security and optimisation.

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South Korea's Accountability Policy System and National Achievement Test
Pearl J. Chung, Hyeonwoo Chea

South Korea made a decision to implement performance-based accountability in 2008 by expanding the national achievement test from a sample-based to a census-based test. The decision influenced schools of all levels across the nation through the use of publicized school report cards, sanctions and rewards, and through the designation of schools as low performing. However, the performance-based accountability policy system has taken a shift under the new administration recently; the national achievement test and corresponding accountability system has been discontinued in elementary schools. Based on a Decision Making Action Cycle, this chapter analyzes factors that have contributed to the implementation and discontinuation of performance-based accountability and discusses their effects at the national, district and school levels.

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The Discursive Hold of the Matric: is there space for a new vision for secondary education in South Africa?
David Balwanz

High-stakes secondary school leaving exams are a feature of many national education systems. In many low- and middle-income economies, exam performance, which mediates access to scarce university places and formal-sector jobs, significantly influences the life chances of youth. This chapter draws on a small-scale qualitative study in South Africa to describe the influence of a high-stakes exam, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam, in schools in two historically marginalized communities. Data indicate that learners in South Africa’s poorest schools are also the least likely to pass the NSC. However, an NSC pass offers these same learners their best chance at securing a bright future. This chapter discusses the influence of a testing culture on conceptualizations of and practices in secondary education and identifies grassroots perspectives which could be drawn on to articulate a new vision for secondary education in South Africa.

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Horizontal Accountability, Municipal Capacity and the Use of Data: a case study of Sweden
Tracey Burns, Patrick Blanchenay, Florian Köster

The global testing culture is part of the accountability challenge faced by many countries. This chapter provides an in-depth look at Sweden, which undertook a radical decentralisation of its education system in the 1990s. This has proven to be challenging to implement, and student performance has deteriorated consistently since 2000. Many municipalities have fallen short on delivering on new responsibilities, in particular in the use of data aimed at increasing local accountability. Lacking strategic guidance and capacity building from the centre, the smaller municipalities in particular have tended to use truncated indicators or traditional methods of attributing funding rather than a comprehensive analysis and plan to improve education. In addition, parents have not filled the local accountability gap, despite wide availability of comprehensive data and the liberalisation of school choice. Sweden is now faced with a serious challenge and must find a way to improve school achievement and equity

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Notes on Contributors

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Contributors

Brian Abery is a co-director of the Educational Assessment and Intervention core area at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) and an adjunct faculty member within the Institute on Child Development and School Psychology Programs at the University of Minnesota. He has been principal investigator of numerous projects designed to enhance the educational outcomes, social inclusion and self-determination of persons with disabilities at both a national and an international level. His international work includes implementation of the Response to Intervention framework in India and the implementation of Inclusive Service Learning in Costa Rica. He holds a PhD in Educational Psychology/School Psychology and has an extensive background in research, assessment, program development and evaluation related to children, youth and adults with disabilities.

Sumera Ahsan is a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She works as an assistant professor at the Department of Educational Evaluation and Research, Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She also worked at the Institute of Educational Research, BRAC University, Bangladesh, as a lecturer. She is interested in educational assessment policies and practices in global context with a special emphasis on developing countries. She has also worked as consultant for the World Bank, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF and Verulam Associates Ltd in areas such as quality of student assessment, project evaluation, technology in education, and teacher training & professional development. She has published several articles and books on educational assessment in Bangladesh. She was also involved in textbook writing and teacher training programs in Bangladesh.

Karen Egedal Andreasen holds a PhD in education and is Associate Professor in Education and Pedagogical Assessment at the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark. Her main interests concern questions of socialisation, social mobility and processes of inclusion and exclusion and marginalisation in different educational contexts.

Hilla Aurén completed her MA in International Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where she was a recipient of the PEO International Peace Scholarship, in 2014. A native of Finland, she has previously worked for the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and in international development in the Middle East and Central Asia. Her main research interests lie in the areas of development, education, good governance and peace-building.

David Balwanz is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His current research focuses on secondary education and youth development in low- and middle-income countries. David holds a PhD in International Education Policy/Political Economy from the University of Maryland-College Park.

Angeline M. Barrett is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Bristol, UK. For the last 15 years, she has conducted a range of research on the quality of basic education in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes work on teacher professionalism, pedagogic practices, social justice conceptualisations of quality and the development of innovative bilingual learning materials.

Patrick Blanchenay is an economist in the OECD’s Directorate for Science, Technology, and Innovation. He holds a PhD in Economics at the London School of Economics, where he was also a Teaching Fellow. Prior to joining the OECD, his research revolved around skill accumulation in agglomerations. He also holds an MRes in Political Theory from Sciences Po Paris, and an MSc in Management from HEC Paris.

Sandra G. Bowman, EdD, is a senior researcher at the University of Arkansas working on the Math Science Partnership, Pre-K School Portal, Mathematics Portal, and other projects focused on improving educational outcomes for students. She is an expert on assessment and evaluation models designed to assess the effectiveness of educational programs.

Tracey Burns heads the Governing Complex Education Systems project in the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). She also directs the Centre’s work on Trends Shaping Education. She holds a Master of Arts and PhD in Psychology from Northeastern University, USA. Previous to her current work she worked on social determinants of health and on education and social inclusion issues both at the OECD and in Vancouver, Canada.

Hyeonwoo Chea is an elementary school teacher and a field researcher in Gyunggi Province, South Korea. She is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Education, Educational Administration, at Yonsei University in Seoul. Her research interests include accountability policy systems, social capital and school effectiveness for students with disadvantaged backgrounds, and comparative analysis of national education systems.

Pearl J. Chung is a PhD candidate in the Department of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, finishing her studies with funding from the Korean Global Scholarship Program (KGSP). Prior to this, she was a Global Apple Scholar and an elementary/middle school teacher at the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago, Illinois. Her research interests include curriculum and instruction for students with disadvantaged backgrounds, accountability policy systems, and comparative analysis of national education systems.

D. Brent Edwards Jr. is currently an assistant clinical professor of educational administration and international education at Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. His work focuses on the political economy of education reform and global education policies, with a focus on low-income countries. Previously, he has worked with the University of Tokyo; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Amsterdam; the Autonomous University of Barcelona; the George Washington University; the Universidad Centroamericana; and the World Bank. In addition to his work appearing in such journals as Comparative Education Review, Comparative Education, Journal of Education Policy, Prospects and Education Policy Analysis Archives, among others, he has a forthcoming book, titled International Education Policy and the Global Reform Agenda: education with community participation in El Salvador (Palgrave MacMillan).

Bjørn Hamre has a PhD in History and Education (2012), and is currently assistant professor at Aarhus University. His work mainly concerns the sociology and history of diagnosing, special needs education and inclusion in an international perspective. He is engaged in developing the analytical use of Michel Foucault’s concept of dispositive. He is chair of the Danish section of the Nordic Network on Disability Research (nndr.dk).

Devin K. Joshi is currently Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University. Author of over two dozen academic journal articles and book chapters, his most recent co-authored book is Strengthening Governance Globally: forecasting the next 50 years (Paradigm/Oxford University Press, 2014). His research focuses on education policy, comparative politics and international relations.

Rie Kijima is a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Her research interests include education in developing countries, the politics of foreign aid, the impact of social policies on educational outcomes. With funding from Education International, she is completing her two-year postdoctoral research on why countries participate in cross-national assessments. Prior to starting her doctoral studies at Stanford University, she worked at the World Bank on education projects in the Middle East/North Africa and East Asia/Pacific regions.

Florian Köster is a consultant at the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), on the Governing Complex Education Systems project. He holds a MA in Government (specializing in Public Policy and Comparative Politics) from the University of Konstanz, Germany, and a MRes in Political Science from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain.

Kristine Kousholt has a MA in Danish Literature and Psychology (2004), a PhD (2009), and has been an associate professor since 2015. Her work primarily concerns assessment practice and teachers’ and pupils’ perspectives on and participation in educational standardised testing.

Jane Leer is a research specialist in the Department of Education and Child Protection at Save the Children, USA. She holds a Master’s degree in International Education Policy Analysis from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research addresses the role of international aid in educational development, the links between education and socioeconomic development, and early childhood education.

Ji Liu is a PhD student in Comparative International Education and Economics at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research focuses on human capital theory in rural and development contexts, and pays particular attention to cross-national policy instruments, institutions and processes. He was born in Xian, China, and first arrived in the United States as a sponsored KU-IIE scholar through the Institute of International Education. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Kansas, and received his Master of Arts degree in International Education Development from Columbia University.

Sean W. Mulvenon, PhD, is Professor of Educational Statistics at the University of Arkansas and created the National Office for Measurement and Evaluation Systems (NORMES) in 1998. Since that time he has worked with numerous state educational agencies (SEAs) and spent 31 months as a senior adviser to the Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Education. He has developed large-scale data systems, growth models and policy associated with testing and assessment practices at both the SEA and national levels. He has served as a consultant on research projects in the United Arab Emirates, India and China.

Mariam Orkodashvili has been affiliated with Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; UC Berkeley; Edinburgh University; Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology; Tbilisi State University; Georgian American University; and the Parliament of Georgia. Her research interests include access to education; international large-scale data and comparative education; corruption in education; social cohesion and education; education and economic development; neural theory of metaphor; cognitive linguistics; language typology and universals. She has published articles in European Education, Sociology of Education; Equity in Higher Education: theory, policy, and praxis; Journal of the European Higher Education Area; Comparative and International Education; International Perspectives on Education and Society, vol. 13: The Impact of International Achievement Studies on National Education Policymaking; and Peabody Journal of Education.

William C. Smith is a senior associate with RESULTS Educational Fund, where he is developing the Right to Education Index (RTEI). Prior to this position he completed a dual-title PhD in Educational Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education at Pennsylvania State University and was a Thomas J. Alexander Fellow at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). His research addressing education’s role in international development and educator-based testing for accountability has resulted in over 15 publications in high-impact journals such as Social Science and Medicine, Education Policy Analysis Archives and Practical Assessment Research and Evaluation.

Anthony Somerset is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. He has worked as an educational practitioner and research worker in developing countries since 1963, initially in Uganda, then in Kenya, where, as Head of Research at the newly established Kenya National Examinations Council, he was involved in a major examinations reform programme. More recently he has worked in a number of countries in South and South-East Asia, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Renáta Tichá received her PhD in Educational Psychology with emphasis on Special Education from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She works as a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration. She has extensive experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of assessments and interventions for children, youth and adults with different types of disabilities on both a national and an international level. Her international work is focused on the development and validation of formative assessments for struggling learners in Indian elementary schools as well as on the development of a technology-based progress monitoring system for students with significant disabilities in the Russian Federation.

Christian Ydesen holds a PhD in history of education from the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He is currently an associate professor at the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark. His main interests are education policy, educational assessment, international organisations and education in multicultural contexts. 

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