The results of this week’s UNESCO Regional Comparative and Interpretive Study (ERCE), i.e. a standardized international assessment, carried out in 2019 in a sample of grades three and six of primary level, were known in the areas of Language, Mathematics and Science. These results show that Argentina worsened from those obtained with respect to 2013 and 2006, in the previous two versions of the same process.
Immediately after relaying the results, professionals, civil servants, journalists, educators, and union representatives issued diverse opinions, focusing the conversation on an issue as comprehensive as possible to empty it: the quality of education. In the arguments, this statement appears to be related to: 1) educational investment, and therefore, if quality “increases or decreases” depending on how much GDP is devoted to education; 2) the standardized nature of the process, and thus the type, methodology, limitations and possibilities of the test and 3) lessons indicating that the process has been achieved or not, and therefore, this is a condition for confirming whether the quality of education in a country is “good or bad”.
The first argument focuses on showing how educational investment fell dramatically during the macrismo, producing a potentially dangerous linear reading: If poor outcomes are associated with neoliberal management, could it be possible, in a popular government, to just invest more, modify those outcomes? Without ignoring that education financing is a key issue, an increase in budget may be a necessary but not sufficient condition to achieve better results. On the contrary, ignoring the budget drain is one way of approving it.
In the second, the criticism focuses on challenging the type of assessment and its characteristics, eventually leading to another simplified reading: If the problem is the operative, what are the political costs of participating or not doing so? What are the alternatives available? Doesn’t it provide useful information? .
In the third, the question is to discuss whether the results generated by normative processes allow characterization of the educational system, with another linear reading: the quality of education is reduced to these learning capture methods.
All these statements are put together in a public space colonized with strong priority by the more conservative sectors of the educational field that have “won” the talk about assessment. This is for at least two reasons. On the other hand, evaluation as a problem and related to quality is a topic that has been set around since the eighties, although since the fifties of the last century, the discourse of quality has been observed in the educational field, by the same sectors as today they are dominant in the media. On the other hand, these actors have made sure to create institutional structures to sustain these conversations, for example by setting up NGOs and offices in different states to make the case visible, and by forming (sometimes technical) cadres that are always very effective at generating ideas In building “public opinion”. Furthermore, we can point out that since the 1990s assessment has become a central issue in educational policy, even to the point that it is almost the only policy that some governments can explain.
The information produced by standardized tests becomes colored lights for those who want to use it in a simplified way: criticize the government, criticize the method of evaluation or characterize a system with only one type of learning from a given moment of immensity. A group of representatives who make up this system. A percentage, percentage, or worse, a simple number ceases to be just a piece of information to become an argument when it is mediated by a value judgment. Here we get to the point: No regional or national standardized tests They are by themselves A synonym for neither high nor good nor low and weak quality of education. The main problem is how do we look at the results of any evaluation process, think about who is doing it, what is evaluating it, what other data can be reversed and compared, what is the context in which these students perform and in the framework of any political and pedagogical project, these processes and results have a. And this is not a way to avoid discussing the poor results of ERCE 2019, but rather an attempt to re-set the conversation: if we agree that these data can present characteristics of some educational settings (because, effectively, they are not synonymous with everything What is done in the system or what is “what do they say”? And then, what are the basic educational policies needed for our boys and girls to have the best educational experiences?
Warning 1 For readers: discussion of these questions leads time and political decision. If we were to reduce this to a four-year term of government (whatever it is) or be aware of the head of the dominant media, we would probably continue to say that educational evaluation is a matter of right, and worse still we would continue to say. I keep saying that this does not at all reflect what our teachers and students are “doing.”
Warning 2: This observation is based on certainty that standard tests do not say everything And much less width everything What happens in the classroom. But to stay at this is to continue to avoid the possibility of reading what the evidence is And They show and put it into perspective, knowing, along with other indicators, the depth, strengths and weaknesses of the education system and thinking about better educational policies.
Warning 3: And if we discuss educational quality, It is worth remembering the pedagogical vigilance referred to by Eduardo Renesi: education is only of quality, if it is education for todxs.
* Researcher at the Floreal Guerini Cultural Cooperation Center