Supriya Baily
The meaning of “learning” in Global Learning Metrics

Next week the CIES Symposium will take place where scholars and practitioners from around the world will come together to discuss and debate the desirability and feasibility of global learning metrics. I’ve had the honor of interviewing many of the speakers who will attend the symposium.

And one things that has struck me during my conversations about global learning metrics is that often a universal meaning of education is assumed by the tests and those who use it.

For instance, a 2013 OECD report that used PISA data was entitled “What makes Schools Successful?

Implied in the very title of that report is an assumption that there is a universal definition of success, as if all schools around the world agreed on what it means to be successful. Moreover, the report implies that it is PISA data itself that can reveal the answer.

Perhaps more clearly, a 2013 report by the Learning Metrics Task Force, which is a multi-stakeholder collaboration organized by UNESCO Institute of Statistics and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, was entitled Toward Universal Learning. The very goal of the task force seems to be reaching universal learning.

But can there actually be one definition of learning and success? Is it possible, in other words, to have a universal notion of “good” education?

This question has bugged me for some time, so I’ve invited Supriya Baily back to the show to discuss this idea of a “good” education in relation to global learning metrics. She points out how tests such as PISA are often culturally unresponsive and do not enable teachers to thrive. Although Supriya is hopeful that Global learning metrics can be meaningful with some revision, she cautions against universalizing concepts of learning or success.

Supriya Baily is an Associate Professor at George Mason University and the Associate Director for the Center for International Education.  She will present some of the ideas discussed today at the CIES Symposium next week.

Citation: Baily, Supriya, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 48, podcast audio, October 31, 2016.