Tests are part and parcel of the schooling experience. If a child goes to school, then I’m sure he or she will, at some point in time, have to take a test. But the nature and purpose testing has changed and seen a rapid expansion in the past thirty years. Tests have become increasingly standardized and connected to high-stake outcomes. Moreover, standardized testing has become the main tool by which policymakers measure education quality.
Standardized tests are both a national and international issue. The rise of international assessments, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, have created a world in which governments at all levels rely on standardized testing. For students, testing — and the preparation for testing — has become commonplace.
My guest today, Will Smith, calls the worldwide phenomenon of standardized assessment the “Global testing culture.” Will is a senior associate with RESULTS Educational Fund, where he is developing the Right to Education Index. He completed his PhD in Educational Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education at Pennsylvania State University and has worked both as a US public school teacher and a fellow at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
In his new edited collection, entitled, The Global Testing Culture shaping education policy, perceptions, and practice, which will be published this year by Symposium, Will argues that the reinforcing nature of a global testing culture leads to an environment where testing becomes synonymous with accountability, which becomes synonymous with education quality.