CRITICAL POLICY ANALYSIS Assignment 1 APRIL 16, 2020 Introduction Policy borrowing in the education field is certainly one of the evolving phenomena of the current age and has been put in place at various instances and at different levels. It is as (Burdett &O’Donnell 2016) put it that policy borrowing as a broad term that does not always involve a complete systemic transformation. It is also described as a deliberate and conscious adoption of ideas, policies, or practices from others or on a more general level, it’s the transnational flow of global policies (Verger, 2014). With the current advancements in the world and a transition towards globalization, the flow of policy ideas and methods have found pace and have been widely adopted and transformed in different parts of the world. (Burdett & O’Donnell 2016) argues that policy borrowing can be very constructive and effective in some circumstances and not always represent a pejorative tone referred to in (Oates 2015) policy tourism. Similarly, Verger (2014) puts up that policy and practice borrowing from elsewhere have contributed to the systems of education worldwide. Further, making use of the lessons learnt from other contexts can, and should, be a powerful tool in the field of comparative education and policy-making (Burdett & O’Donnell, 2016). However, such borrowing can become problematic due to the complex nature of the educational systems and a wide variety of external factors influencing the favorable ground for policy implementation. These factors include various socio-economic, cultural, and various other situational and international factors as well. This report aims to look at the national testing program and policies in Australia and how potentially it can be borrowed to Saudi Arabia effectively. The national testing programs and policies mainly are covered by the National Assessment Program which includes different domestic and international assessments conducted by the Australian authorities to measure performance of students in different areas. One of these testing programs is NAPLAN which is a national assessment that tests students' ability in three areas of literacy—reading, writing and language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation)—and in numeracy (Department of Education, 2020). NAPLAN is part of the NAP, and is used to measure and report student achievements mainly in years 3, 5, 7, and 9. It focuses on literacy and numeracy achievements of students and serves as a national benchmark for the performance of young Australians and resourcing information for the government. NAPLAN was introduced in 2008 by the Rudd/Gillard Labor government with the key policy stakeholders being young students, parents, teachers, state and federal governments. It is managed by an independent Commonwealth authority known as the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) whereas the key policy actors of this policy would include the federal government, International educational bodies and state. Looking at the national testing policy and specifically NAPLAN from an Australian perspective will give major insights into the efficiency of the program and some key policy issues. Even though, NAPLAN continues to produce annual results highlighting important information about the students, schools and the regions, the policy behind this has found some criticism as well. (Thompson, 2018) argues that the two aims that policymakers have for NAPLAN: “to help drive improvements in student outcomes and provide increased accountability for the community” (ACARA, 2011) can confound each other in practice. The first aim of driving improvement relies on the belief that more and better data enables better intervention and monitoring. The second aim of NAPLAN, to provide increased accountability, is driven by the logic that holding individuals and organisations to account motivates them to do better. A structural problem with NAPLAN is that using it for accountability purposes while also proposing to use it for diagnostic and educative purposes can work against each other There is also a hint towards NAPLAN being a high-stake test as (Lobascher, 2011), (Lingard 2010) and (The Experience of Education: A Qualitative Study—Whitlam Institute, n.d.) mention it as a high stake test given the publication of National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test-results on the MySchool website and subsequent media identification and a survey testing. Similarly, (Polesel et al., 2014) reports from his national study involving 8000 educators which indicates that the testing regime is leading to a reduction in time spent on other curriculum areas and adjustment of pedagogical practice and curriculum content to mirror the tests. Furthermore, another insight on the instruments used for NAPLAN shares that it does not facilitate differently abled students. (Cumming & Dickson, 2013) state that equitable inclusion of students with disability in current Australian educational accountability testing is not occurring from a social perspective and is not in principle compliant with law. Another criticism comes in a way that the introduction of such a test has shifted the teachers’ focus from curriculum. (Perkins, 2010) argues that teachers have been told to teach explicitly for the national tests that are the cornerstone of the Federal Government's controversial My School website. Additionally, (Santiago et al., 2011) outline in the OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Australia, that NAPLAN has certain limitations in its alignment with student learning objectives. These are some of the issues highlighted in the policy from an Australian perspective. The next section now focuses on the philosophical understanding and alignment of education and the text and discourse of this policy. Analysis The philosophical understanding of education dates back from the introduction of idealism by Plato to the recent postmodernism understanding. The policy work behind NAPLAN was a part of making the educational policy of the country as part of national economic policy. This came in response to the increasing globalization and prevalence of concepts like knowledge-based economies. As we look at the policy, it is clear that it was built on a top down approach with being rational, procedural and regulatory in approach. The distributive description tends to focus on all the students without classifying them through means testing. The policy discourse is trying to establish literacy and numeracy as the cornerstone for education and further believes to have a standardized test in order to measure the performance of students in these domains. It also mentions the test results as a benchmark for future instructions and guidance for students. At the same time, it is also focusing on how the performance of students in this test can be set as a tool to compare performances of students, teachers at a national level. Additionally, as (Thompson & Lasic, 2011) share in this mode, NAPLAN is understood as a set of practices, statements and truths (discourses) that privilege certain interpretations, values and expectations above others. Knowledge is not external to the institution – a rational, absolute, objective knowledge, but is created within the discourses of the institutions and its practices Looking more into the text and discourse of the policy, it is found that it relates to realism, pragmatism and post modernism thoughts. The policy’s alignment with the Melbourne Declaration and use of statements like, “Australian schooling provides equity and excellence”, “Item writers work to ensure equity of access for students of all genders and from different cultures and language backgrounds” and “Allow equity of access for students with disabilities” highlights its relation with realism. (Thompson & Lasic, 2011) state that NAPLAN as text is given over to simplified, concrete understanding of complex ideas such as equity and accountability: NAPLAN is equitable because everyone has to do it so it is a fair measure of teaching and learning in schools Similarly, a focus on skill-building and quality like the statements, “gives teachers information about their students’ skills and understandings”, “allow students to show the breadth and depth of their understanding and skills’’, “Students become numerate as they develop the knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently across all learning areas at school and in their lives more broadly” show the relevance with postmodern thoughts to some extent Furthermore, mentions like, “The NAPLAN writing test aligns with the Australian Curriculum: English through a focus on three central types of texts that are essential for students to master if they are to be successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizen” also show slight direction towards romanticism and pragmaticism. Lastly, there is also a hint towards neoliberal thinking as (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010) share that the Rudd/Gillard Labor government and its predecessor the Howard Liberal government have assumed greater control over education and education funding in an attempt to apply neoliberal thinking that sees education as a key factor in global and national economic concerns. References Burdett, N. & O’Donnell, S. (2016). Lost in translation? The challenges of educational policy borrowing. Educational Research, 58,(2), 113-120, DOI, 10.1080100131881.2016.1168678 Cumming, J. J., & Dickson, E. (2013). Educational accountability tests, social and legal inclusion approaches to discrimination for students with disability: A national case study from Australia. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 20(2), 221–239. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969594X.2012.730499 Department of Education, S. and E. (2020, April 3). National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy | Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government. https://www.education.gov.au/national-assessment-program-literacyand-numeracy Lingard, 2010, Policy borrowing, policy learning: testing times in Australian schooling. Critical Studies in Education, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 129-147. Lobascher, S. (2011). What Are the Potential Impacts of High-Stakes Testing on Literacy Education in Australia? Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 19(2), 9. Oates, T. 2015. Finnish Fairy Stories. Cambridge: Cambridge Assessment [online]. Accessed March 7, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/Images/207376-finnish-fairy-stories-timoates.pdf Perkins, M. (2010). Teach for tests, teachers told. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.smh.com.au/education/teach-for-tests-teachers-told-20100204-ng6o.html Polesel, J., Rice, S., & Dulfer, N. (2014, September 3). The impact of high-stakes testing on curriculum and pedagogy: A teacher perspective from Australia [Text]. Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved from: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/tedp/2014/00000029/00000005/art 00004 Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2010). Globalizing Education Policy. Abingdon: Routledge. Santiago, P., Donaldson, G., Herman, J., & Shewbridge, C. (2011). OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Australia 2011. OECD. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264116672-en The Experience of Education: A Qualitative Study—Whitlam Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.whitlam.org/publications/2017/10/17/theexperience-of-education-a-qualitative-study Thompson, G. (2011). NAPLAN: Evaluation is just good policy. (n.d.). QTU. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.qtu.asn.au/collections/queensland-teachersjournal/vol123-2018/queensland-teachers-journal-march-2018/naplan-evaluation-justgood-policy Thompson, G., & Lasic, T. (2011). Doing something about it: Representations of NAPLAN in the public domain. Thompson, G. Retrieved from: https://Researchrepository.Murdoch.Edu.Au/View/Author/Thompson, Greg.Html Verger, A. (2014). Why Do Policy-makers Adopt Global Education Policies? Toward a Research Framework on the Varying Role of Ideas in Education Reform. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 16(2), 14-29.