idea-poster.gif  IDEA Network Poster A conference of the IDEA network in Mexico this spring provides a fascinating insight into the pernicious effects of testing in the Americas The conference was held by the Initiative for Democratic Edcuation in the Americas (IDEA) The report of the conference which runs to some 213 pages analyses in detail the way standardised testing has impacted on edcuation in the various countries in North and South America and the Caribbean. It is no accident that the conference took place in Mexico where there are ongoing and heroic struggles against the imposition of neo-liberal methods of education on teachers and schools. The report points out that these methods reduce education to an economic activity which is designed to compete in the market, to produce uncritical and obedient workers and to stifle all forms of teacher and pupil creativitiy and critical thinking. Yet this imposition is invariably couched in the language of social justice. As the report points out:

"The proclamations of “equal opportunities” and “social justice”employed in defense of the neo-liberal reforms imposed in the education sphere beginning in the early 1990s, are now at the threshold of the new century clearly revealed as nothing more than a rhetorical panacea responding solely to market interests"

 Morevoer the report shows how testing is further used to stifle teachers through performance pay systems which are spreading throughout the Americas although they have been successfully and vigorously resisted so far by teaching unions in Argentina and Ecuador for example.

The report points out the many ways in which these global and standardised systems - far from improving the quality of education are simply forcing children to repeat received 'truths' - with no need to understand or analyse what these' truths' represent. Crucially they also ignore and sideline cultural difference, as the report puts it: 

"Standardized evaluation is based on ignoring the cultural, ethnic, gender and social diversities of our peoples"

The report provides a valuable resource for those unions for example in Australia, in England and in South Korea who are engaged in the same fight against standardised testing. To read the report of the conference in full go to the following link: http://www.idea-network.ca/userfiles/image/file/PRINT%20VERSION.pdf