• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Working paper

‘Formalizing the unformalizable’: Discursive resistance to Unified State Examination by the teacher community

This paper investigates the logics of teachers’ discursive resistance to the Unified State Examinations (USE) almost two decades after its introduction into the Russian education system. By drawing upon NVivo-aided Discourse analysis of online teacher discussions, interview and focus group data, the analysis critically examines the pedagogical underpinnings of USE vis-à-vis the traditional assessment system in the teaching community in two Russian cities: Moscow and Rostov-on-Don. Drawing on the concept of ‘actually existing neoliberalisms’ the analysis shows how, when interpreted through the lens of grassroots pedagogical values, the semantics of the globalized concepts of ‘educational standardization’ and ‘standardized testing’ takes on domestic culturally-specific meanings complementary and, at times, contradictory to the intended ones. In Russia specifically, the notion of ‘standardization’ comes into conflict with the pedagogical idea of a creative personalized and, therefore, profoundly ‘non-standard’ education, while academic assessment continues to be perceived as the non-quantifiable and subjective outcome of teacher-pupil interaction over time. The analysis underscores the interpretative and symbolic dimensions of educational policy and calls for more nuanced efforts to culturally tailor and translate borrowed educational meanings on the part of educational elites.