Historical Roots of the Global Testing Culture in Education


  • Christian Ydesen Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Karen Egedal Andreasen Aalborg University, Denmark
DOI: https://doi.org/10.23865/nse.v40.2229


Contemporary education is characterised by a global testing culture, reflecting the fact that students’ learning outcomes and standards are the focus of policymakers worldwide. It therefore plays a significant role in educational policies in different national contexts. We offer a brief outline of the precursors and preconditions that have facilitated the rise of today’s global testing culture. The article notes two chronological stages: the first encompasses a confluence of comparative education, the rise of applied psychology, and the formation of transnational organisational structures prior to World War II. The second stage features the emergence of international organisations immediately after World War II. We argue that these developments subsequently conflated into a trajectory fostered by Cold War policies and became dominant from the 1990s onwards.

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How to Cite

Ydesen, C., & Andreasen, K. E. (2020). Historical Roots of the Global Testing Culture in Education. Nordic Studies in Education, 40(2), 149–166. https://doi.org/10.23865/nse.v40.2229





testing culture, education, international organisations, history of education