The “discourse” of OECD and EU on school education: Accountability, evaluation and the role of leadership

Issue 24

“The “discourse” of OECD and EU on school education: Accountability, evaluation and the role of leadership”

Artemis Marabea

Pages 129 – 146


This article, using Laclaou-Mouffe’s Discourse Theory and Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis, attempts
to explore how the OECD- EU’s discourse is articulated in relation to school education. The first observation
is that in this discourse, three nodal points are of vital importance: accountability, evaluation and leadership.
The way these points intertwine, attaches a different point of view in already existing floating signifiers,
like quality and improvement. The main conclusion is that the accountability and evaluation systems focus
on learning outcomes and on the effectiveness of student performance by implementing external standards,
measurable goals and international comparative tests. The language of economical discourse (customers,
efficiency, human capital) dominates resulting to the concept of quality and improvement being shaped into a
quantified dimension, reflecting the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. While this seems to be the dominant
ideological field of OECD-EU’s discourse, an other point of view, attached to concepts (equality, equity) and social
values (trust, reciprocity, collaborative networks) is also displayed on. In addition, there is a lot of emphasis
given lately on the internal evaluation, which is accompanied by its own nodal points :collaborative learning,
self-control, new professionalism. This creates a possible antimony in that discourse. In this context, school
leader has the responsibility to function at the same time as an evaluator of the teachers, as an intermediary
during the incorporation of external evaluation and as an expert in implementing internal evaluation processes.