The New Zealand experiment: assessment-driven curriculum – managing standards, competition and performance to strengthen governmentality
(2015) Journal of Education Policy, 24 p. Article in Press.
Following the Tomorrow’s Schools administrative restructuring, a second wave of educational change installed globalised discourses as governmentality policies in Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on Foucault’s ‘toolkit’, this genealogical policy chronology traces the transformation of curriculum and assessment into a specific political rationality, unsupported by national standards (NS) or testing. Its inscription into students and teachers through technical-managerial and business-market discourses, sought to remake them as enterprising, industrious and governable within an Enterprise Culture. The paper traces the microphysics of the institution of this rationality, through the fusion of curriculum, assessment and economic policy, and the imposition of a NS accountability framework onto curriculum. Learning discourses encouraged teachers to locally breakdown objectives and activate them as NS to initiate governance by outcomes, targets and results. Reinforcing market relations, this installed the basis of performativity and measurement. By 1995, the failure to attain reliable, comparable data, calculate productivity gains and leverage standards, resulted in the government’s review and audit agency declaring standards non-existent and the framework unworkable. This paper demonstrates the centrality of curriculum assessment, even with ostensibly failing purposes, to the construction of malleable human capital and the embedding of a calculative governmentality for future population knowledge, management and control. © 2015 Taylor & Francis
curriculum assessment; economisation; education policy; governmentality; rationality; standards