Global Learning Metrics - Nov. 10-11, 2016


Event Contact

Silvia Aparicio

Learning outcomes have been enshrined as central policy objectives in the new international education and development agenda – specifically in the post-2015 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike goals that seek to universalize access for education, for which consensus is strong, debates around learning are considerably more contested. While proponents argue that more robust global learning metrics have the potential to reduce academic disparities and improve learning outcomes for children across different contexts, critics note that such universal measures typically focus on a narrow assessments of basic skills while overlooking the importance of human rights, aesthetics, morality, religion, or spirituality. Others point to the dangers associated with the emergence of the data-fixated punitive accountability regimes, privatization and marketization of public education, and a growing disconnect between systems, actors, and larger pedagogic changes. More broadly, the debate about the global learning metrics reveals an underlying tension in our field - a tension between the desire to replicate and scale up “best practices,” on the one hand, and the awareness about the importance of deeply contextualized practice, on the other hand.

Symposium format

The curriculum for the symposium will incorporate an alternating series of keynote plenary debates and parallel sessions. The conference plenaries will feature opening statements representing different sides of the argument by invited experts - policy-makers, practitioners, activists, and academics - followed by a focused moderated debate to develop a shared language and build shared knowledge of the issues at hand. While the plenary speakers have been invited by the conveners, we are inviting paper submissions for parallel sessions.

Thematic questions

The CIES 2016 Symposium will bring together education policymakers, practitioners, activists and scholars to engage in a focused debate about the desirability and feasibility of global learning metrics. The following questions will be used to guide symposium discussions:  

Theme 1. Conceptualizing global learning metrics: What should be assessed?

  • What balance should be sought between the assessment of basic numeracy and literacy skills and the measurement of learning outcomes related to citizenship, human rights, sustainability, history, aesthetics, morality, religion and/or spirituality?    
  • Can global learning metrics consider alternative worldview, linguistic and cultural heritage of historically marginalized groups in the society in which they reside?      

Theme 2. Agencies, actors and stakeholders: Who determines what should be measured?

  • What role have different stakeholders played in mobilizing the current focus on learning outcomes and their measurement? Which actors and agencies should determine what gets taught and measured?
  • How should comparative education researchers address the critical issue of equity/inequalities in learning in terms of conceptualization, measurement and policy?