In Norway, Sweden and Denmark national testing communities advocating the introduction and expanded use of standardised educational tests in the national educational systems emerged around World War I. Using international research and cross-border networking activities, these coteries were able to gain power and thus establish and promote a new profession, the educational psychologist, along with instituting practices of alleged scientific tests in the following decades.
This article presents a historical analysis of the central processes and developments constituting the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish testing communities. The aim is to understand the workings of these professionalization movements rooted in the creation of an international fellowship of like-mindedness and a knowledge monopoly connected with standardised educational tests. Viewed from a contemporary perspective, this type of analysis is relevant, because specialised knowledge and experts with knowledge monopolies remain prevalent in the modern-day field of education policy and practice. Thus, the roots of this inherent tendency towards expert knowledge in modern welfare state educational settings can be more adequately grasped through a better understanding of the historical precursors.
The article discusses the importance and actual impact of the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish testing communities on national educational practices, the significance of the international interplay, and how and to what extent national political and educational climates were shaped by new experts and knowledge.
It is argued that the testing communities were able to gain authority in the national educational fields through the creation and maintenance of organisations, knowledge, and practices, as well as in the forming of alliances with politicians, universities, and teachers’ unions in a joint endeavour that promoted educational psychology and testing in the three Scandinavian educational fields.
2013. Vol. 12, no 1, 120-138 p.