Powerful Voices Shaping the Future of Global Education

Year: 2017

Author: Ledger, Susan, Bailey, Lucy, Their, Michael, Pitts, Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 2018, 15-year-olds from around the globe will participate in the first large-scale assessment of global competence or the knowledges, skills, behaviors, and dispositions needed to live, learn, and work in an increasingly interdependent world. The new addition to the OECD's Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) suite of assessments assume a high-water mark for the face validity of global competence as a relevant educational outcome. To date, global competence has been pitched as a universal student need, though it has not gained traction broadly in schools. PISA's global competence measure seems wrought with technical challenges, particularly its reliance on self-report data-which are prone to several self-presentation biases-and a lack of attention to issues of cultural relativity. Setting aside measure quality, any data from this worldwide pilot will still be seductive to policymakers, who often draw inappropriate comparisons from PISA or similar international measures. This paper interrogates the OECD's 2030 framework and its accompanying document, Global competency for an inclusive world, as an exercise in power and consolidated authority. The evaluative inquiry employs a mixed method convergent parallel design within which we use a novel combination of critical discourse analysis (CDA) and social network analysis (SNA) to find convergence, complementarity, and contradiction between the findings from each method. CDA and SNA findings reveal biases and power inequities inherent in the way global competencies are promoted, portrayed, and defined in the new PISA offering. We provide recommendations for how policymakers and other stakeholders might avoid overinvesting in PISA global competence score interpretations. Our paper challenges the claims and assumptions of elitism embedded in global competency discourse, calling for further interrogation in this area.