23 SES 02 A, Reframing Quality in Education
Considering contemporary discourses on quality assurance and assessment (QAA) in education one comes across warnings by different authors on how dominant QAA mechanisms frame education policy and practice. Evaluation and quality, does not (only) come about at the end of educational processes, as we would like to think, but is embedded in structuring and framing of education, at the level of the system down to individual and group practices and even more so – in society as a whole.
Many of the critical insights in QAA come from the agentsin the field of education. Biesta (2010) amongst other warns against rationality of excessive measurements in education and invites to rethink the value of education. Alvesson (2014) places QAA mechanisms in the heart of zero sum games society (ZSG)and shows how dominant expectations structure QAA and reinforce ZSG society as well as the other way round. Trippeestad et all (2017) show how international comparative assessments influenced teacher education. Global policy discourses, on the other hand, for example on part of institutions such as OECD, Word Bank, UNESCO, EC seem to insist on the “old” promises of knowledge society and global economic competitiveness, efficiency etc. These are only a few examples that lead us to reconsider the existing and alterative structuring of QAA. Nevertheless all seem to recognize QAA as an important regulatory mechanism in educational policy and practice.
Two types of rationalities (Weber 1978) seem to emerge: Instrumental rationality – which seems to be closely tight to neoliberal regulative mechanisms and value rationality. The latter can be articulated as axes of resistance to the first (Foucault 2009, 2008/1, 2008/2, Ball 2012). Foucault’s conceptualization of govermentality and productive conceptualization of power relations - between power, knowledge and the subject- offer a possible insight into the policy and practice of framing and shifting QAA. Critique of instrumental rationality in QAA is therefore found following different axes of resistance all seemingly opposing the dominant rationality of effectiveness and neo liberal market and types of power relations, knowledge and subjectivity they produce. On the other hand, different regulative ideas, amongst them reflection, are trying shift QAA. This juxtaposition, predominantly in internal forms of QAA, mainly through self-evaluation.
We argue that the ways in which self evaluation in QAA is conceptualized, operationalized and embedded in the system of QAA offers a possible insight into distinctive types of power relations that need to be addressed in order to understand the challenges and limits of the existing and emerging regulative ideas in self evaluation – at the level of the system and in subject formation. The ways self evaluation in conceptualized implies the limits and possibilities of formation of teachers as subjects. As an example Slovenian national QAA system will be presented.
 Bourdieu (1990, 1992, 2002, 2012)
 Following Weber’s ideal types.
The paper uses discursive analyses and genealogical insight into structuring and restructuring the policy and practice of QAA and self evaluation. Theoretical framework is later on applied to the case of Slovenia for the purposes of elaborative inquiry into the possibilities and limits of the concept in needed in order to frame self-evaluation along the lines of purpose and intent. This would enable argumentations for policy and practice in relation to different axes challenges that QAA is attempting to regulate.
Rationality of the new market liberalism is producing new kinds of teachers and teaching subjects. If we wish to avoid QAA to become a routine practice or for what is predominantly still perceived as, as a form of control, a more productive approach is needed. Reconsidering axes of resistance by the teachers and schools offers an insight. Spaces of agency, the care of the self and others seem a reasonable approach. Analyses of discourses and rationalities that frame QAA in Slovenia (Kos 2017) shows how elementary schools have “avoided” some of the dominant regulative ideas that seemed to be going strong in other educational levels. What was not considered an” issue of quality” could be briefly outlined: first there were elements that were not a part of value rationality of elementary schools, for ex employment, transition to the labor market. Rationality of selection was subsumed to inclusion, a sense of equity and justice was noticeable. Second, there are elements that can be interpreted as doxa (Bourdieu 2002) and deemed unnecessary in the QAA discourses for they are a part of other discourses that have different priorities. Last but not least, there are those that are (usually) passive forms of resistance, due to the lack interest, teachers time and financial incentives… etc. Neoliberal market rationality has a tendency to use QAA for the purposes of “squezzing the most for minimum investment”. We believe QAA in education and self-evaluation should avoid that. Hopefully this will contribute to the discussion on challenges self-evaluation, QAA and schools are facing today.
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