Traveling reforms in Brazil: the appropriation of large-scale assessments in local contexts

Abstract

 Presenter (s) Adriene Bolzan Duarte Antunes, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarine (UDESC); Geovana Mendonça Lunardi Mendes, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina (UDESC)

Large-scale assessments introduced by the United States became external models of the educational assessment system, and were expanded to Latin America in the post-reform and redemocratization period. Countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Argentina included the large-scale assessments in their local agendas in the 1980s and 1990s, and have since developed strategies for implementing and strengthening these assessments using them as educational policies drivers. In Brazil, large-scale assessments have become constant strategies for educational policies propositions in different contexts, most of the times, used in order to help spreading the debate about the quality that one has related to the quality that one desires to achieve. Large-scale assessments began in the federal context, state initiatives emerged, and we have recently witnessed local municipal initiatives. It is this scenario of large scale assessments expansion that we discuss in this paper in order to understand the circulation of large scale assessments in Brazil starting from global ideas and initiatives, discussing their dissemination as well as the recontextualization in specific local contexts. In this way we discuss and analyze the local strategies adopted by municipalities of the State of Santa Catarina that incorporated and established large-scale assessment policies as well as the ways of their operationalization. Empirical data is composed by survey and construction of an Analysis Framework for Large-Scale Assessment of Municipal Initiatives with information from the 295 Santa Catarina municipalities. The discussion is not moving towards a comparative perspective, but rather by using local large-scale assessment initiatives as exemplary cases that allow us to glimpse how large-scale assessment policies developed in local contexts may be crossed by “global agendas”, and not necessarily by educational interests. Our theoretical and analytical perspective follows the studies by Gita Steiner-Khamsi (2004, 2012) and Antoni Verger (2016), who introduced concepts such as transit and policy lending, articulated with Stephen Ball’s Policy Cycle and Policy Performance (2014, 2016). The results show the interest of Santa Catarina municipalities in conducting local large-scale assessments and this is done in two ways, 1) the municipality’s own initiative to design and create its large-scale assessment policy; 2) contracting services via educational packages to conduct local assessments. They also show the strengthening of local contexts’ adherence to federal initiatives. Adherence to large-scale assessments in local contexts has characteristics common to other contexts, which does not allow us to look at them as equals, as the effects of policies are mediated by the local context. There is a complex interaction between global and local forces in the realization of educational policies. In view of this, we consider that municipalities, when conducting their own assessments, redefine macro policies, and transfer to their specific local contexts, macro policy processes in carrying out their own assessment actions. Thus it is possible to infer the emergence of a new form of educational management focused on data obtained by external assessments consolidating itself as an instrument of educational management.

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