The constraints on delivering public goods – a response to Randy Bennett’s ‘What does it mean to be a nonprofit educational measurement organization in the 21st Century?’

The constraints on delivering public goods – a response to Randy Bennett’s ‘What does it mean to be a nonprofit educational measurement organization in the 21st Century?’

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The constraints on delivering public goods – a response to Randy Bennett’s ‘What does it mean to be a nonprofit educational measurement organization in the 21st Century?’

Very different structural arrangements exist, in different national settings, for theprovision of assessments and qualifications. Whilst international convergence isoccurring in the wake of global economic developments and the emergence of newpublic policy arrangements such as transnational qualifications frameworks, theunique composition of national systems remains worthy of analysis. Some nationalsettings such as England are characterised by highly complex arrangements. In suchsettings, subtle relationships –, heavily determined by their historical background -carry the responsibility for delivering public goods in respect of assessment andqualifications. This presentation will argue that issues of control, accountability, andsources of innovation are not always transparent, even to the key agencies within thesystem. Within this, the issue of the profit/not-for-profit status of organisations is lesssignificant than their explicit and implicit structural positioning.The paper argues that it is important, but insufficient, to analyse the mission andintentions of an assessment agency in respect of legislation which bears directly onit. It is essential to look beyond this, to understand the complexity and volatility of keyfactors in national structures and settings which constrain and empower agencies.The paper argues that extrapolation from one national setting to another onlybecomes possible when analysis is based on identification of ‘,control factors’, andhow they combine in specific national settings. Without this approach –, drawn from mature transnational analysis methodology –, there is an acute risk of reaching inappropriate conclusions about the ‘,space’, for the operation of independent assessment agencies and viable modes of operation. Finally, the paper identifies subtle shifts in vital, informal accountability mechanisms.

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