This dissertation examines the value of evaluation for Turkey's educational decision making. Relying on individual interviews and document review, the study analyzes how key stakeholders - government officials, academics, and civil society representatives - and governmental acts envision and portray the role and utility of evaluation for public decision making specifically in the education sector. Drawing on social science literature from the fields of evaluation, comparative education, public policy, and international development, this study addresses the need to decolonize the concept and practice of evaluation, as this trans-disciplinary field is rapidly cutting across geographic, historic, social, and cultural borders. This study revisits the origins of evaluation practice in the global Northern context, traces its expansion into the global South across a number of sites, and argues that context matters in transferring, borrowing, negotiating, establishing, practicing, and using the concept and practice of evaluation. Evidence for this study's conclusions comes from Turkey's relatively immature history with evaluation in the education decision domain. Motivated by the desire to become one of the top ten largest economies in the world by 2023, Turkey's rapid development underlined educational achievement and growth as the roadmap. This quest necessitated a specific form of educational governance and decision making driven by the principles of effectiveness and efficiency. At the heart of these principles, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has long lain as a tool of accountability, learning, and improvement, in which Turkey's entire public administrative culture has historically lagged behind. In response to this immaturity, supranational authorities and international donors have provided financial and technical impetus for locating M&E systems, practice, and information in the Turkish education decision domain. Coupled with the country's official drive for modernization, international actors, to a great extent, paved the way to legal arrangements for streamlining evaluation. Specifically, the Green Paper published after the European Union's "Strengthening the Capacity of the Ministry of National Education Project" later became the conceptual foundation for Decree No. 652 that helped establish M&E units at the Ministry for the first time in Turkey's educational history. Despite all these efforts, the study reveals that evaluation remains as a new concept that is closely associated with quantification, performance-based budgeting, and compliance. Evaluation's value mostly resides in its symbolic representation of modern norms of governance to which Turkey eagerly wants to commit. Yet, reported confusion about what evaluation really entails, as a concept and as a field of practice, is paired with highly centralized and politically polarized educational governance, all together situating evaluation in foster care in Turkey: it is neither fully adopted, nor is it completely abandoned. </DISS_para> <DISS_para>Adopting a constructivist-critical outlook on the role of evaluation in the global South, this study endeavors to locate this field of practice in the broader context of international development with its negotiated margins, borders, and struggles. By suggesting that evaluation is a marker of a country's quest to modernize and Westernize, this study sheds light on the direction of cross-cultural expansion of the field of evaluation.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2014. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: David W. Chapman, Jean Anne King. 1 computer file (PDF) ix, 262 pages, appendices A-D.
Between abandonment and adoption: the value of E-valu-ation for Turkey's Educational Decision Making.
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