Revisiting curriculum, the numbers game and the inequality problem

Author: Yates, Lyn

Source: Journal of Curriculum Studies, Volume 45, Number 1, 1 February 2013 , pp. 39-51(13)

Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

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This essay reflects on Daniel Tanner’s ‘Race to the top and leave the children behind’ by attention to the way our particular national histories impact on our thinking about what is valuable, the kinds of curriculum pressures and commonsenses that are now at work internationally at government and policy level, the specific forms these are taking in Australia, and the ways they are impacting positively and negatively on concerns about equity and difference. The article argues that neither testing nor lack of testing will solve the issue of schooling and difference and social inequalities. The Program for International Student Assessment agenda has influenced the language and rationale through which differences in schooling outcomes are made visible, and it also contributes to an overarching political and public sense of education as a competitive race, and as an economic vehicle. In Australia, this is underpinning some support for better funding of disadvantaged students, but also building a climate of competitive anxiety that embeds parental concerns about maintaining differential advantage. Beyond the testing arena, the substance of the curriculum is also being reshaped and this essay discusses the ways this too is important in relation to concerns about difference and social equity.

Keywords: equity; policy; politics; testing

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2013

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