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Data, standardization and humans – Negotiating the boundaries of education professionalism in Australia, England, France and Germany
Dienstag, 15.03.2022:
9:00 - 11:30

Virtueller Veranstaltungsort: Zoom Seminarraum 16

927 0519 2170, 612058
3. Interkulturelle und International Vergleichende Erziehungswissenschaft, Sektion 3, Kommission Vergleichende und Internationale Erziehungswissenschaft, Sektion 4, Kommission Bildungsorganisation, Bildungsplanung, Bildungsrecht, qualitativ, Englisch


Data, standardization and humans – Negotiating the boundaries of education professionalism in Australia, England, France and Germany

Chair(s): Vito Dabisch (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität, Deutschland)

Diskutant*innen: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Hartong (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität, Deutschland)

Around the world, education standards and (digital) data are increasingly implemented in education policy, governance and practice, thereby re-constructing professional practices and understandings of education through the lens of data. The resulting new visibilities enable governance and accountability to cross established boundaries between governance and school practice. This working group investigates the dissolution of established boundaries by governance through data and standards, the re-construction of professional practices in relation to data, and the differing, contextualised responses by professionals whose subjectivities are influenced by new “datafied” visibilities. In four international case studies, we shed light on how the professionalisms of (early years) teachers, principals and school supervisors are influenced and challenged by data, but also how the logics of datafication and standardization themselves might be challenged and resisted by education professionals.


Beiträge des Panels


Schools, data and teachers’ learning: Insights from Australia

Dr. Ian Hardy
University of Queensland

Schooling in Australia has become increasingly subject to processes of data-based governance, evidenced in the re/de-bordering of new modes of teacher professionalism and the increased influence of managerial processes. In this presentation, I build upon a large corpus of work, based on hundreds of interviews with teachers over several years, into the nature of school reform processes in Australia. I exemplify the Australian situation by drawing upon the insights of a very experienced teacher, ‘Miriam’ whose career spanned almost 50 years. I focus upon how she construed attention to various ‘short term data cycles’ that were undertaken in her school in the context of increased pressure for teachers to be able to justify their practices, and to show how their students’ learning had shown improvement over short periods of time. Utilising theorizing in relation to datafication processes and accountability logics that have re/debordered teachers’ professionalism, I reflect upon Miriam’s efforts to engage productively with the use of the data generated from this process, including during professional development days that drew upon the short term data cycles. In this way, I reveal how teachers’ professionalism has been debordered by more datafied managerial processes, which have led to increased standardization of practice with a subsequent recalibration and residualisation of teacher and student learning.


Dedication to Data: English Early Childhood teachers’ negotiations of the shifting demands and boundaries of policy

Dr. Alice Bradbury
University College London

The early childhood sector for children (0-5 years) in England has been a site of increasing datafication in recent years, with implications for how teachers see themselves and their roles (Bradbury and Roberts-Holmes, 2017). However, policy reforms beginning in 2020 have changed the curriculum and assessment demands for school-based early childhood teachers, with a move away from a data-driven ‘tick box’ approach of assessing children’s development against set criteria suggested by some within the early childhood sector as a positive result. At the same time, these policy changes have proved controversial with some professionals, provoking a grassroots movement which produced an alternative set of guidance described as ‘by the sector, for the sector’. Interview and survey research data from early adopters of these changes are used in this paper, alongside analysis of policy documentation and campaign literature, to examine the tensions between the new approach and established expectations about collecting and analysing data. It is argued that this shift has provoked complex responses and debates in the early childhood sector about accountability and pedagogy, with teachers setting their own boundaries of acceptability in relation to reform. This includes, for some, a continued dedication to collecting and recording data on young children as a key part of being a professional early childhood teacher.


Steering the French teaching state by performance data: new policy frontiers vs old professional configurations?

Prof. Dr. Xavier Pons
Université Paris-Est Créteil

This presentation compares the effects of the French policy of steering education by performance data on three professional groups: teachers, head teachers and school inspectors. Since the beginning of the 19th century, France institutionalised a so-called ‘teaching state’, meaning that the state has strongly assumed a teaching function toward citizens and at the same time that the state has been organised to protect teachers’ professional autonomy. This model resulted in the institutionalisation of a neocorporatist model of regulation and a double line of hierarchy within the system (administrative and pedagogical) that often led to various forms of decoupling between reforms and teachers’ effective practices. The recent French steering by results policy intends to dissolve these boundaries of the traditional ‘teaching state’ through the implementation of various policy tools: planification, contractualisation, evaluation, datafication. These tools imply the production of new data on the performance of systems and professionals and, thus, a redefinition of traditional professional boundaries and ecologies. The main findings of two recent research projects – one comparing steering by results policies in France and Quebec and another on teachers’ career management in several EU countries – reveal that this policy has contrasting effects on these groups according to the different professional configurations, in which they are embedded at various policy levels.


Data-based governance in practice: dynamics of school governance in four German states

Vito Dabisch
Helmut-Schmidt-Universität, Deutschland

In the last decades, German school policy increasingly emphasised data-based school governance, introduced educational standards and educational data infrastructures (Hartong & Förschler 2019). The introduction of student assessments created new visibilities of teacher practice, crossing the traditional boundary between the administrative and pedagogical realm. This shift in policy has been accompanied by a political expectation towards principals and school supervisory officials to implement data-based governance practices like data-based school development discussions, performance targets and internal evaluation. The contribution investigates the realities of data-based school governance through qualitative interviews with both school supervisory officials (Schulaufsicht) and principals in four German states. The contribution sheds light on the expansion dynamics of data infrastructures, the individual and structural differences between governance practices and how school supervisory officials and principals use, but at the same time complicate and resist, the ‘datafied’ view on schools. The findings suggest changes in professionalism towards an incorporation of data into the governance practices of both supervisory officials and principals. However, there is evidence that some data tools emphasise managerial approaches to school governance, challenging established pedagogical professionalisms.