Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
Debates around the content of the curriculum, and how it is taught, have been overshadowed in the past few years by an increasing focus on output-regulated educational systems (or educational outcomes).
The issue of identifying and developing knowledge within educational systems has given way to determining how competencies are acquired and assessed.
The emphasis on “key competences” is the result of two converging movements. The first is based on the reformulation of the equality objective. If equal opportunities are apparently utopian, can equality of outcomes further the democratisation process and ensure all children at the end of the compulsory period of study master the basic competences necessary to live in society? The second emerges from the vision of the European Union; to become a most globally-competitive knowledge-based, socially cohesive society through the prioritisation of education. To that end, Member States agreed to become mutually accountable for their performance in terms of the quality of education.
The European Commission has thus defined key competences which apply to all national policies. Many European countries have also put into place assessment systems that ensure that realisation of key competences, and provide rankings of student and institutional performance. They have raised numerous debates in education:
How might we protect against the risk of the education project being reduced to its instrumental dimensions, particularly when life in society requires instilling non-instrumental values?
How is it possible to assess value-based competences, such as the ability to live together in multiethnic and multicultural societies?
To what extent do assessment systems that rank winners and losers create disincentives to learn, because of their negative effects?
What modes of assessment produce feedback to students, diagnostic knowledge to teachers and information to parents which supports learning?