Saturday, February 27, 2016

Reading on Test Validity and Integration (Inclusivity and Exclusivity) - 4

 Goodman, 2012, notes that the novel introduction of language and cultural knowledge tests in Europe has interested scholars, but there is general disinterest in the variety of such tests from state to state. The historical shift from having to pass some kind of assessment, (and perhaps swear an oath) is Europe wide. It contrasts with the previous requirement of simply "being there", (Spiro, 2008). 

Goodman notes at p663 that historically the rights of citizenship were counterbalanced by its obligations, particularly in times of war, "but the updated version is a bit more ambiguous regarding the types of duties or obligations the citizen owes the state." 

[She does not spell put these ambiguous duties, but what could they be? Think of both rights and obligations: Consular protection and advice if/when abroad; voting; jury service; theoretical liability to be obliged to serve in the armed forces... 

[Are any of these particularly meaningful or onerous in the day-to-day life of a person? Apart from voting, that is, which it could be argued IS fundamental, and the rules regarding that are interesting in an historical context in the UK. EU residents in the UK are overtly NOT able to vote in elections. Residents who are citizens of Commonwealth countries (a long list), and the Irish Republic, are able to vote. (Electoral Commission, 2015).  

[During the Scottish Independence Referendum Campaign in 2014, a Scotsman - long-time non-resident in his native country - told me that he did not think I - permanently settled in Scotland - should be entitled to vote. I took that view then to be the result of racism, ignorance and stupidity, and haven't changed my mind since. We were both Yes voters, as it happened. I mention it now because the right to vote is clearly something which can stir emotions which cloud someone's better judgement, and therefore are, perhaps, much more than the icing on the country-of-residence cake.] 

Per p671, we should not overlook the role of Permanent Residence. It can be "a type of demicitizenship".  It's more important in countries in which it is difficult to obtain citizenship, [obviously]. 

UK policy on citizenship reflects "an inchoate concept of the 'British citizen' that remains unclear and is regularly redefined." (p685)

[NB, "a citizenship ceremony was implemented in February 2004, where new citizens pledge to uphold British qua “democratic” values and swear an oath of allegiance to the monarchy". The wording of the oath, (it is available as an affirmation, too) is:

"I, [name], swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law."
Pledge:
"I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen."

Can we look at this through the lens of validity? Does it have significance for stakeholders? I can say anecdotally that it has significance for the person taking the oath, but is seen as meaningless, even comical, by others.]

Goodman opines (p686) that these developments in the UK occurred under a "left-government", but she's referring to New Labour and the historian of recent UK political history, especially one from the left, might have more ambiguous views about the Blair years from the perspective of 2016. 

"New integration requirements are specifically and explicitly designed to 'incentivize' citizenship and encourage more people to acquire citizenship." (687). It might be worth looking back at Home Office, 2003, to see how the contours of the UK governments' explicit and implicit views on migration and citizenship have changed in the last decade or more. The reason is to work out motives, and thus try to find out what that particular stakeholder might see as "beneficial consequences". 

So, we need to work out to what extent there are consistent, coherent, developing views and opinions on migration and citizenship in the establishment. Or is it the case that policy is driven by the need to balance the requirements of capital for cheap labour with the xenophobic instincts of some elements in the press and in the non-migrant population. This goes to the heart of what I'm researching: test validity in (say) an IELTS examination is a relatively straightforward matter of delineating the stakeholders and the proposed beneficial consequences, and then ascertaining if those beneficial consequences have come to pass, and if any unintended negative consequences have appeared. 

But with tests connected to migration and citizenship, we are in a much more confused situation. It may be that stakeholders themselves are unclear what the beneficial consequences are, and that they will hold competing views about the nature of these consequences. Some stakeholders may be disingenuous about the beneficial consequences, never having thought of the test in those terms,  driven by the need for electoral advantage (seen through the prism of approval from the media and focus groups, perhaps). 

This is the nub of it: an educational test has as its stakeholders the testees, the testers, educational institutions and possibly future employers. But a test which is in existence to assess fitness to enter, remain in or become a citizen of a country... That's a whole different thing, and (so far as I can tell) no one has considered this in terms of test validity. You could see this as a stress-test for the Bachman & Palmer/Kane/Chalhoub-Deville model(s) of validity. 

Khalas.


REFERENCES

Electoral Commission (2015) Who is eligible to vote at a UK general election? Retrieved from http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/faq/voting-and-registration/who-is-eligible-to-vote-at-a-uk-general-election 27th February 2016.

Goodman, S. W. (2012). Fortifying Citizenship: Policy Strategies for Civic Integration in Western Europe. World Politics (Vol. 64). http://doi.org/10.1017/S0043887112000184

Gov.uk (2007) Oath of Allegiance and Pledge of Loyalty. Retrieved from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/oath-of-allegiance-and-pledge-of-loyalty 27th February 2016

 Home Office, ed. 2003. “The New and the Old: The Report of the ‘Life in the
United Kingdom’ Advisory Group.”
London, UK: Home Office.

Spiro, Peter J. 2008. Beyond Citizenship: American Identity after Globalization. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.