Inclusion in testing times: implications for citizenship and participation

Autor(es): Ydesen, Christian; Acosta, Felicitas; Milner, Alison L.; Ruan, Youjin; Aderet-German, Tali; Ezequiel Gomez, Caride; Spangsberg Hansen, Ida

Publisher(s): UNESCO

Date: 2020

Pages: 23 p.

Serie: Background paper for the Futures of Education initiative


Testing and inclusion are two global education policy agendas with seemingly divergent aims. While inclusion suggests that every student can make a valuable contribution to their learning environment, testing has the capacity to exclude those who do not attain the ‘right’ knowledge in the ‘right’ way. National policies of testing and inclusion therefore have implications for students’ participation in education and, implicitly, their future citizenship. Drawing on data from national-, regional- and school-level policy document analysis and qualitative interviews with policymakers, school leaders, teachers and students, this background paper explores the testing and inclusion agendas in five national contexts: Argentina, China, Denmark, England (UK) and Israel. It is argued that testing and inclusion, in the context of wider political, socio-economic, geographical and cultural forces, have combined to marginalise particular groups of students in each national jurisdiction. Moreover, the inclusion agenda is challenged by: i) the more dominant testing agenda; ii) limited engagement with broader conceptual understandings of inclusion; and iii) insufficient financial investment. Although the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated social and educational inequalities, students in certain contexts benefited from new approaches to learning. In light of the challenges and opportunities presented by the current health crisis, the authors conclude the paper with proposals for future policies of assessment and inclusion.

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