Research that counts: OECD statistics and ‘policy entrepreneurs’ impacting on Australian adult literacy and numeracy policy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 2016, 21 (3), pp. 165 - 180
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2016 Association for Research in Post-Compulsory Education (ARPCE). This paper analyses research that has impacted on Australia’s most recent national policy document on adult literacy and numeracy, the National Foundation Skills Strategy (NFSS). The paper draws in part on Lingard’s 2013 paper, ‘The impact of research on education policy in an era of evidence-based policy’, in which he outlines the distinction between research for and of policy. The former is privileged in education policy formation and comprises largely statistical evidence (i.e., ‘policy as numbers’), often drawing on the globalised authority of organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), along with research commissioned by policy makers and undertaken by ‘policy entrepreneurs’. Research of policy represents academically oriented research, which is often qualitative, seeks new knowledge and may challenge the status quo. Through an analysis of studies cited in and thus impacting on the NFSS, we detail the main authors of research for policy and indicate their ideological commitment to the neoliberal agenda that now dominates the adult literacy and numeracy field in Australia and other OECD countries. Research of policy in this context has had little policy impact, but is nevertheless promoted by the authors as a means of countering the current reductionist discourses of adult literacy and numeracy reflected in national policy.
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