Portable Techniques, Un-portable Politics: Expert Networks, Bricolage and Repoliticization in the Transfer of Teacher’s Evaluation from Santiago to Mexico.

Mr. Pablo Cussac

In 2013, Mexico implemented the Teachers’ Professional Service (SPD), an ambitious dispositif that regulates teacher’s careers through a series of performance evaluations, largely inspired from the Chilean system of teacher evaluation. After years of contentious teacher mobilizations, in 2019 the new government has abolished the SPD. This paper retraces the evaluation's genealogy in order to shed light on the conditions that allowed for its transfer from Santiago to Mexico and the factors leading to its dismissal.

The story connecting Mexico and Chile seems characteristic of the globalization of accountability policies in education. Our study shows that Latin American countries are not only passive recipients of these policies, but that they can be active in the process of transfer. Furthermore, we argue that globalization is not necessarily synonymous with homogenization. Processes of bricolage, were different technical, social and political elements are assembled together, are key in the translation of devices such as teacher evaluation.

Our argument is based around the existence of two sources of legitimacy of the instrument: the technical and the political. The first is based on the work of psychometricians, and was made possible by the MIDE; a research center based at the Catholic University of Santiago specialized in educational measurement. The establishment of the MIDE as a regional reference in evaluation matters allowed its experts to become a “common sense” reference for their Mexican counterparts seeking to reform the management of teachers. Nevertheless, in the process of translation, the instrument was repolitized. While in Chile the evaluation had been thoroughly negotiated between the administration and the teacher’s professional organization, in Mexico it became a tool to fight the teacher’s union corporatist power. In doing so, the evaluation was outstripped of its original political conditions of possibility, its second source of legitimacy. Without it, its stability was compromised.

This paper is based in several fieldworks conducted in Mexico (2017, 2018, 2019) and Chile (2019), in the context of an ongoing doctoral dissertation comparing teacher evaluation in both countries. For this paper, we analyze 22 interviews conducted with key informants at the Mexican National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (7), the Chilean MIDE (5), the OECD (4) and UNESCO (2), as well as interviews with other relevant experts (4). These are complemented with the analysis of the institutions’ grey literature and key publications on the matter.