Pasi Sahlberg of Finland (author of Finnish Lessons) refers to the obsession with testing, accountability and choice as the Global Educational Reform Movement or GERM. Finland has thus far managed to avoid catching the GERM and places its bets on teacher professionalism, a strong safety net for children, and child-centered education.
Eduardo Andere of Mexico has studied world systems of education. He here describes how Mexico has fallen for GERM:
Here in Mexico we are going frantic into this frenetic world testing. A new National Constitutional amendment is on its way to create a National testing and assessment agency with unlimited power for assessment and education policy. All federal and state governmental agencies will have to follow the guidelines issued by this new-to-be-agency. And a new teaching professional civil service, will be set up to assess teachers under standardized tests for entering into teaching or rewarding their performance, based mainly on their pupils’ tests results. And the problem here, with a very centralized education and very powerful oriented political system, what one person thinks is what all people do.
If you are bad, we are worse. This is why we have consistently performed at the bottom among all OECD’s PISA contesters; compared to Finland that has consistently played at the top. Finland and Mexico are the two opposites. The study of both make extraordinary lessons for all in a shocking contrasting way! But our policy makers are so influenced by the US federal policy makers and the OECD’s policy transmitters, that there is no way that we from the academia, or the more scientific means of looking at things, can teach them otherwise. They of course are joined by influential and “successful” businesspeople, who think that schools can be run the same way as car or gadget factories.
Students are not gadgets. And teachers are not robots.