Concerns with Using Test Results for Political and Pedagogical Purposes: A Danish Perspective

  • Jens DolinEmail author
Part of the The Enabling Power of Assessment book series (EPAS, volume 2)


Testing – classroom based as well as large-scale testing for comparative purposes – is becoming an increasingly important factor in educational policy in Denmark as in the other Nordic countries. Test results are attracting headlines in the media, often because these results disturb the national self-image of being among the best in the world, and improvement in these tests is established as a political goal. Especially high-stakes and large-scale tests affect both the national educational policy and the teaching in the classroom – not necessarily directly, but increasingly indirectly through the values and the discourse they impose on the school and society. These effects will be illustrated through the results from two larger research projects in which the author participated. The first is a Danish Clearinghouse study on the pedagogical consequences of high-stakes tests, showing the negative influence of these tests on teaching and on student behaviour. The other is a research project validating the PISA test in a Danish context, showing how the PISA tests, as an example of large-scale, comparative tests, have become a lever for dramatic changes in the Danish educational policy, without building on a valid justification. On a general level, these examples are seen as confirming the overall shift driven by global test systems, from a ‘bildung/didaktik’ approach (traditionally undertaken in the Nordic/Central European countries) towards a curriculum/policy driven approach (Anglo-American tradition) within education. Finally, the article will draw from the demonstrated tendencies to present some leadership and policy implications.


Standardised tests PISA Bildung Denmark Nordic leadership Validity Assessment Assessment paradigm Didaktik Curriculum School leadership Educational policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science EducationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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