National testing data in Norwegian Classrooms: a tool to improve pupil performance?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionWerler TC, Færevaag MK. National testing data in Norwegian Classrooms: a tool to improve pupil performance? . Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy. 2017;3(1):67-81 https://doi.org/10.1080/20020317.2017.1320188
This paper considers teachers’ use of data from national school tests. These national tests are part of the Norwegian top-down accountability school system. According to official regulations, teachers have to use the test results to improve learning outcomes even if the test system is not able to deliver necessary data. However, previous research has shown that teachers apply teaching-to-test strategies. The focus of this paper is twofold. First, we ask, ‘How do teachers perceive and interpret the data from national tests?’ Second, ‘How do teachers view their actions related to the data from national tests?’ We base our research on data from semi-structured 5th-grade-teacher interviews. The transcribed text is subject to qualitative content analysis. We find that teachers are in a state of data illiteracy towards complex Item Response Theory tests. Inspired by Bernstein’s concept of the pedagogic device, we see that the test data rules both teacher work in the classroom as well as knowledge provided to the pupils. The national tests seem to undermine teachers’ autonomy, restrict teachers’ practice and reinforce the impact of unfair structures on pupils’ learning.