Hi there! Thanks for reading.
I’m trying to make sense of the way assessments are used and misused in adult basic education and literacy learning.
For the first three years of the life of this blog, I focused primarily on the ways that certain elements from international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) managed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are put to use in adult learning programs. Aspects of the assessments—their leveling system, domains of learning, score cut-offs, test item design principles, even a learning strategy—are often packaged a little differently by the time they reach programs, but their origins can be traced. They make their appearance in performance management frameworks, curriculum frameworks, spin-off tests and even learning materials that are designed for local use.
Transposing the assessment into educational settings has led to a myriad of problems, contradictions and confusions, stifling equitable learning opportunities, inclusion and educator expertise.
The importance of my analysis in the field of Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) was recently supported in the journal Literacy and Numeracy Studies.
We hope to see more work that contributes to a detailed interrogation of ALN policy as an active social process. Work that asks, for example, what are the mechanisms through which OECD statistical data has systematically extinguished practitioner knowledge and repositioned practitioners as functionaries rather than as educators? We continue to wonder who is responding to the challenge by Brandt and Clinton (2002) that literacy studies find ways to better analyse connections between the global and the local. We eagerly await more research, like that of Pinsent-Johnson (2015), documenting the mechanisms through which ALN policy and practice are aligned, locally and globally, but also studies that investigate what enables, and limits, educators’ attempts to prioritise the human needs of ALN students over the documentary demands of current policies (Tannis Atkinson and Nancy Jackson, 2016).
Now, three years later, I want to look more comprehensively at assessment issues in adult basic education and literacy development programs. The aims are to support adult educators and also build some assessment resilience in the field to better recognize, question and even resist assessment regimes that are not designed to support and empower learners.