In this process, much of what is so singular and important about that local project will be totally missed; evaluators only seeing what they want to see and what they can see from their perspectival position. Evaluation understood as a statement of fact can reduce a project to a number; evaluation understood as a judgement of value requires a far more complex, conditional and provisional conclusion.
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Technical languages of evaluation, like managerial accounting, with their desire for quantification and their belief in objectivity and certainty, can be harmful in other ways. For applying a particular system of externally and predefined categories and classifications to projects with distinct identities, such as Reggio Emilia, does not respect the otherness of the subject of evaluation.
For as Gunilla Dahlberg has written,. To think another, Gunilla continues, whom I cannot grasp is an important shift and it challenges the whole scene of pedagogy. It poses other questions to us pedagogues. Questions such as how the encounter with Otherness, with difference, can take place as responsibly as possible.
The IELS follows in the wake of PISA the Programme for International Student Assessment , the well-established comparative assessment of year-olds undertaken by OECD since , and which at the last round of evaluation in included over half a million students in 72 countries. The first round of IELS is due to begin in , and will involve the testing of samples of children in participating countries, using standardised measures of a range of cognitive, social and emotional skills. The IELS will, in effect, be an evaluation project, evaluating not only children but early childhood education systems in participating countries.
These concerns have been expressed from New Zealand, where many years work has produced a distinctive early childhood pedagogy. In a recent article, Mathias Urban and I wrote that.
This would be to the detriment of 'the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood sociocultural and bicultural curriculum…[which] has established a set of priorities for teaching and learning that are different from most of the other OECD countries. But other countries might still join the first round at this late stage, and more may feel impelled to participate in a future second round.
Then the concerns will mount. A second example of the risks of applying an incommensurate language of evaluation is closer to home. Such examples make the need for languages of evaluation that are commensurate with the positions adopted by Reggio Emilia and many other projects as well all the more pressing and essential. Languages that can provide not only more understanding, but that are ethically responsible in their relationship to what is evaluated. But what might those languages of evaluation be? In the chapter that Gunilla and I have written we explore one possible language that we believe would be suited to evaluating the early childhood education in Reggio Emilia and its municipal schools.
This might be termed the language of democratic accountability, and one way in which this language can be expressed is through pedagogical documentation. Those others may be children, teachers, other school workers, parents or other citizens. The combination of making the subject of interest visible through materiality and then working to make meaning of that subject, leads first to constructing and deepening understandings; but then, if wanted, can move on to making judgements of value — or evaluations.
They differ greatly in their paradigmatic position, their suppositions and their ways of working, and in particular, in their understanding of what evaluation is. As I have said, the widespread language of evaluation epitomised by OECD or the economists wants to make statements of fact, expressed in numbers. It treats evaluation as an essentially technical practice, about measuring performance against externally derived standards; it expects to achieve a definitive representation of what is evaluated and to make a categorical statement of fact.
By contrast, the language of democratic accountability, working with pedagogical documentation, treats evaluation as a judgement of value and an essentially political and ethical practice. This involves: understandings constructed and judgements reached in relation to political questions and choices; and relationships of respect for otherness expressed through listening and dialogue. It views evaluation as inherently provisional there is always more to be understood , partial there are always other perspectives, other ways of looking and understanding , and participatory a wide range of people should take part.
Can it, for example, respond to the questions often asked by visitors to Reggio Emilia: what difference does the network of municipal schools make to the city and its citizens? Does the early childhood education leave traces on children as they move into and through compulsory schooling? A commensurate language of evaluation needs to be able to accommodate and work at all of these levels.
Similarly, a commensurate language of evaluation needs to be wide-ranging. But the schools have other purposes: for example, being places for democratic practice, for creating culture, and for building solidarities within the community. A language of evaluation must be able to encompass these and other purposes. Gunilla and I think that pedagogical documentation has the potential to work at different scales, but much more work needs to be done on this aspect.
How exactly might you evaluate, using pedagogical documentation, at the school or system levels? What new sources of documentation might be needed?
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And what conditions would be necessary to ensure such evaluation involved widespread participation and achieved truly democratic accountability? These are just some of the many questions that Gunilla and I hope to work on further. So, I look forward to hearing about your discussions and receiving your comments. There is a wide range of ht early education curricula concerning the degree of autonomy early child- hood teachers are allowed. For example, the English and in some degree the Greek frameworks are controlled by national regulations, while the 2 Danish and French frameworks provide their early childhood teachers with ig large amounts of autonomy Peeters, There has been growing acknowledgement of the need for the empow- erment of teachers through researching their own practice and becoming more aware of the complexities of the school environment.
These teachers are considered to have an increased un- derstanding of the complexities of the learning environment. Despite the large volume of literature that acknowledges the importance of empowering the professional role of teachers as researchers, the major- er P ity of the training programs are still based on more traditional approach- es of training. These programs usually address one or two speciic issues d d through theoretical seminars and lectures or with workshops, and they are completed in a single event or period. However, such training structures A are characterized by certain limitations.
Guskey acknowledged that the best approach for a train- s 5 ing evaluation is to be carried out after trainee implementation of their acquired knowledge in ield practice. The main pursuit of evaluating ECEC environment quality with observa- tional scales is to record the weaknesses and strengths of a preschool unit 2 and provide future recommendations for improvement. Until today, few ig eforts have attempted to consider an additional use of these observation- al evaluation scales.
One of the roles that the Environment Rating Scales could play is the formative evaluation for improvement of teaching Lam- bert, The same strategy was followed in Sweden Andersson, , and [QA: There is no reference for this also in seven regions in the UK, where they used the observational scales A citation. This scale, which is the most known instruction-focused observa- tion tool, follows the same strategy when used for professional develop- ment. First comes the evaluation itself, then recording of the aspects that d need improvement, and then training provided to early teachers in order to improve their practices.
The main characteristic of the MTP approach is the shared process that is followed consultant to- gether with teachers by observing classroom interactions by using CLASS. I An additional use of the observational rating scales is to introduce them to the early childhood teachers as an ideal means for their active involve- ment as evaluators of their own practices. The idea is simple—early child- hood teachers are trained as reliable assessors in using the scales teacher s 5 as researcher and then implement them in their classrooms self-evalua- tion.
They collect data about their daily practices action research and re then relect on the issues that require improvement self-improvement. Such a procedure could result in assisting the professional development of 1 the early childhood teachers. An example supporting this argument could be a brief description of s a European-funded Comenius project named Early Change.
Early childhood ig teachers from the six participating countries were trained to apply the scale through a standard training procedure that included both theoretical and practical training. The results showed ll that teachers reported very high levels of satisfaction and self-improvement. The use and application of widely accepted observation rating scales as means for supporting the relection, self-evaluation, and self-improvement of early childhood teachers could be a major beneit.
Such an approach er P could add value to the regular contribution of the observational rating scales. Such an argument could be based on the fact that teachers are more d d inclined to adopt self-evaluation and self-improvement procedures rather than base their evaluation solely on external evaluation procedures. In this A respect, the involvement of teachers with the use of evaluation tools makes ve them more positively disposed to the notion of evaluation and overcomes the traditional resistance against its use.
The discussion regarding the use of global measures of quality, such as re ECERS-R or CLASS, was made because of their wide acceptance and use from the international early childhood education community. Despite the fact that several limitations of global measures of ECEC quality obtained s r 0 with observational scales have been acknowledged e.
However, it is impor- 2 tant to mention again that the main pursuit of this chapter was not to pro- ig mote the value of speciic quantitative measures such as the ECERS-R or the CLASS or to discuss their strengths and weaknesses or to assess global versus domain-speciic measures.
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The observational rating scales are being used as a vehicle for empower- ing several teacher characteristics. They are used for the evaluation of the environment quality and then, based on the recorded weaknesses of the ECEC environment, a speciic training is ofered to the unit and the staf. The proposal focuses on including the usage of the scales as the actual content of the training provided to teachers.
Our perspec- d tive, which is based on recent experiences from speciic training programs A with these scales, is that if teachers are trained in using the scale and get ve acquainted with its contents, then this knowledge functions as a valuable aid for self-evaluation, relection, and self-improvement. The teachers who are trained to become reliable assessors in using observational evaluation scales might also improve their teaching efectiveness.
The assessment skills I they gain may serve as one source of insight and self-awareness about their classroom practices. For example, teachers as evaluators use their acquired knowledge about the quality of their classroom environment to add to the conversation regarding their practices Dahlberg et al.
Future studies could include training in using observation rating scales in 1 in-service teacher training. Being able to measure and examine the po- tential impact of such a training approach in wide samples could provide important information about the value and efectiveness of using observa- s r 0 tional rating scales as an instrument for the professional development of teachers. Home and preschool learning environments and their relations to the development of early numeracy skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, A 27, — Andersson, M. Unpublished doctoral disserta- tion p.
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