A logic of appropriation: enacting national testing (NAPLAN) in Australia

Author(s): Hardy, Ian

Date: 2014

Pages: pp. 1-18

This paper explores how the strong policy push to improve students’ results on national literacy and numeracy tests – the National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) – in the Australian state of Queensland influenced schooling practices, including teachers’ learning. The paper argues the focus upon improved test scores on NAPLAN within schools was the result of sustained policy pressure for increased attention to such foci at national and state levels, and a broader political context in which rapid improvement in test results was considered imperative. However, implementation, (or what this paper describes more accurately as ‘enactment’) of the policy also revealed NAPLAN as providing evidence of students’ learning, as useful for grouping students to help improve their literacy and numeracy capabilities, and as a stimulus for teacher professional development. Drawing upon the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, the paper argues that even as more political concerns about comparing NAPLAN results with other states were recognised by educators, the field of schooling practices was characterised by a logic of active appropriation of political concerns about improved test scores by teachers, for more educative purposes. In this way, policy enactment in schools is characterised by competing interests, and involving not just interpretation, translation and critique but active appropriation of political concerns by teachers.

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