D. Brent Edwards, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education assistant professor, brings new insights to global education policy and the role of impact evaluations in his book, Global Education Policy, Impact Evaluations, and Alternatives: The Political Economy of Knowledge Production.
The book not only looks at the ways that politics influence policy research but also critically examines the methods—known as impact evaluations—that are used in such research. The distinguishing characteristic of impact evaluations, and the reason they are so popular, is that they attempt to identify the effect of a given policy or program on key outcomes, such as test scores. However, impact evaluations are subject to many methodological limitations and are based on questionable assumptions.
Edwards grounds the discussion of politics and research methods in the hidden history of an education policy that went global thanks to the evaluations that were produced by the World Bank. He highlights the problems of these evaluations while simultaneously showing the ways that these flawed evaluations were used to promote the program globally. The book contributes to how we conceptualize and investigate the role and influence of knowledge production by international organizations within the field of global education reform.
Although impact evaluations have come to be seen by many as the most credible form of policy-relevant knowledge, Edwards questions this belief by unpacking the methodological, technical, political and organizational challenges inherent in the production of impact evaluations. He goes further by detailing an approach to critically understanding and examining the role that impact evaluations, once produced, play within the political economy of global education reform.
Global Education Policy, Impact Evaluations and Alternatives demonstrates the application of this approach in relation to a global education policy from El Salvador and reflects on the implications of this case for alternative ways forward, methodologically and otherwise.
More about D. Brent Edwards
Edwards is an assistant professor of theory and methodology at the UH Mānoa College of Education. He was previously a visiting scholar at the University of Amsterdam, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Central America and a post-doctoral researcher at The University of Tokyo.
His work focuses on the global governance of education, the political economy of education reform and education policy analysis.