The International Bureau of Education (IBE) of UNESCO has published a series on current and critical issues in curriculum and learning. They have just released their fifth publication, entitled Ten Notes on Systems for Assessing Learning Processes, which was written by Professor Juan Carlos Tedesco of Argentina. The author shares his perspective on gauging and assessing learning.
Tedesco argues that assessments contribute to competition between schools and lead to increases in inequality, segmentation and inequity, particularly in compulsory education. Tedesco continues,
The measurements enabled us to ratify the existence of a powerful social determinism of the learning outcomes. Above and beyond statistically negligible differences, this is the strongest feature yielded by the measurements. But while the school is scarcely able to break the social determinism of learning outcomes, attention needs to be given to countries that improved social equity but failed to match this with more educational equity. In this respect, the two most interesting cases are those of Uruguay and Argentina. As we know, Uruguay is the country with the best social equity indicators of the region, and yet its results in education do not match these social advances. The high rates of failure at secondary school, where it has not proved possible to modify the traditional highly elitist design, is probably the most eloquent indicator of the difficulty that exists when it comes to reflecting social equity in educational equity. In Argentina, for its part, it is noteworthy that, despite the improved material living conditions of the population since the 2001 crisis, together with better material inputs for learning, no improvements have been recorded in learning outcomes.
By taking a close look at the history of assessment and discussing the strengths and weaknesses often associated with it, Tedesco envisions a more systematic approach to establishing procedures that promote higher levels of equality and social justice.
This fifth issue is currently available in French, Spanish, and English.
Click here for more information on the In-Progress Reflection Series.