Early childhood education matters, but only high quality ECEC makes a difference (Sylva et al., 2004). The interest in monitoring quality of ECEC has resulted in the development of several assessment measures, most of them standard-based tools and in the increasing globalization of assessment tools, which can carry undeniable advantages (Grammatikopoulos, Gregoriadis & Zachopoulou, 2015; Limlingan, 2011), but it may also leads to pitfalls, especially if the cultural complexities of cross-cultural use of these instruments, their cultural consistency and ecological validity, are not taken into account (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence 2007; Tobin et al., 2009; Vandenbroeck & Peeters, 2014). Quality is a «value- and cultural-based concept» (OECD, 2013b, p. 35). Children of the contexts where they were developed, quality concepts and measures unavoidably reflect cultural values and methodological assumptions typical of their cultural cradle (Pastori & Pagani, forthcoming). This topic has received only marginal attention (Ishimine & Tayler, 2014) and the European study here presented is aimed to address this gap. Even tools with a solid theoretical and empirical background and widely spread internationally, such as the CLASS (La Paro et al., 2012; Pianta et al., 2008), cannot be considered culture-free: free from a specific image-construction of the child, of the ‘proper‘ pedagogical approach, of the ‘high-quality’ teacher-child interaction… The here presented international qualitative three-country study (Italy, Portuguese, the Netherland) – set within the European project CARE – focuses on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS Toddler and Pre-K versions), one of the most internationally widespread assessment instruments. National ECEC experts and teachers (Italy 54; Portugal 8; The Netherland 18) have been involved in sustained and focused observations and dialogues (focus groups and video observations), using the CLASS dimensions, indicators and behavioural markers, as a lens and frame to observe and compare the perspective of the tool to the local-cultural and pedagogical perspective. The tool worked as a powerful highlighter of different cultural viewpoints on quality and pedagogy in ECEC settings, a stimulus to compare and contrast (Rogoff, 2003) local theories with the values and the cultural models embedded in the instrument. Elements of continuity and differences between these perspectives were recognized and key-features of the teacher-child relationship not captured by the CLASS were elicited. Results offer interesting insights into a methodological and theoretical reflection on universal vs culture-related views on education and quality. The purpose of the study is not to criticize tout court the cross-cultural use of standardized assessment measures, nor to promote an extreme relativist perspective denying the valuable advantages that it can carry, but to propose a balanced critical-cultural approach to quality and quality measures, recognizing continuity and size of agreements between different countries and cultures, and at the same time valuing the variety of local cultures of children’s education as resource «for creativity and the future of humanity» (Rogoff, 2003, p.18).

Pastori, G., Pagani, V. (2017). What is universal? A critical cultural approach to CLASS. The voice of Italian, Portuguese and Dutch ECEC teachers. Intervento presentato a: SRCD Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas, USA.

What is universal? A critical cultural approach to CLASS. The voice of Italian, Portuguese and Dutch ECEC teachers

PASTORI, GIULIA GABRIELLA
Primo
;
PAGANI, VALENTINA
Secondo
2017

Abstract

Early childhood education matters, but only high quality ECEC makes a difference (Sylva et al., 2004). The interest in monitoring quality of ECEC has resulted in the development of several assessment measures, most of them standard-based tools and in the increasing globalization of assessment tools, which can carry undeniable advantages (Grammatikopoulos, Gregoriadis & Zachopoulou, 2015; Limlingan, 2011), but it may also leads to pitfalls, especially if the cultural complexities of cross-cultural use of these instruments, their cultural consistency and ecological validity, are not taken into account (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence 2007; Tobin et al., 2009; Vandenbroeck & Peeters, 2014). Quality is a «value- and cultural-based concept» (OECD, 2013b, p. 35). Children of the contexts where they were developed, quality concepts and measures unavoidably reflect cultural values and methodological assumptions typical of their cultural cradle (Pastori & Pagani, forthcoming). This topic has received only marginal attention (Ishimine & Tayler, 2014) and the European study here presented is aimed to address this gap. Even tools with a solid theoretical and empirical background and widely spread internationally, such as the CLASS (La Paro et al., 2012; Pianta et al., 2008), cannot be considered culture-free: free from a specific image-construction of the child, of the ‘proper‘ pedagogical approach, of the ‘high-quality’ teacher-child interaction… The here presented international qualitative three-country study (Italy, Portuguese, the Netherland) – set within the European project CARE – focuses on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS Toddler and Pre-K versions), one of the most internationally widespread assessment instruments. National ECEC experts and teachers (Italy 54; Portugal 8; The Netherland 18) have been involved in sustained and focused observations and dialogues (focus groups and video observations), using the CLASS dimensions, indicators and behavioural markers, as a lens and frame to observe and compare the perspective of the tool to the local-cultural and pedagogical perspective. The tool worked as a powerful highlighter of different cultural viewpoints on quality and pedagogy in ECEC settings, a stimulus to compare and contrast (Rogoff, 2003) local theories with the values and the cultural models embedded in the instrument. Elements of continuity and differences between these perspectives were recognized and key-features of the teacher-child relationship not captured by the CLASS were elicited. Results offer interesting insights into a methodological and theoretical reflection on universal vs culture-related views on education and quality. The purpose of the study is not to criticize tout court the cross-cultural use of standardized assessment measures, nor to promote an extreme relativist perspective denying the valuable advantages that it can carry, but to propose a balanced critical-cultural approach to quality and quality measures, recognizing continuity and size of agreements between different countries and cultures, and at the same time valuing the variety of local cultures of children’s education as resource «for creativity and the future of humanity» (Rogoff, 2003, p.18).
No
abstract + slide
ECEC, quality assessment, critical cultural approach
English
SRCD Biennial Meeting
Pastori, G., Pagani, V. (2017). What is universal? A critical cultural approach to CLASS. The voice of Italian, Portuguese and Dutch ECEC teachers. Intervento presentato a: SRCD Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas, USA.
Pastori, G; Pagani, V
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/151118
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