23 SES 02 A, Reframing Quality in Education
Several changes has affected public sector the last decades. Ideas inspired by New Public Management (NPM) and post-New Public Management has challenged traditional hierarchical rule management. These reforms have in common that its goal is to streamline public sector through goals and performance management (Christensen & Lægreid, 2011; Christensen, Egeberg, Larsen & Roness, 2010). Øgård (2005) states that the NPM-reforms are characterized by higher use of indirect control in the form of devolution, delegation of responsibility and authority as well as evaluation. Furthermore, NPM-reforms has the users or the clients in focus in terms of freedom of choice, user surveys and rights legislations.
The education sector is no exception from this global trend. On the contrary, the education sector is in fact at the centre of attention to authorities in many countries. In the discourse of the knowledge society, education is the most important tool for improving public service. Education is the key-factor for facing global challenges such as sustainable development, migration, innovation, social justice and democracy, and the transfer of culturally important knowledge (Trippestad, Swennen & Werler, 2017). As a result, reforming teacher education is the focus of policy-makers around the world. This is also the case in Norway. For the Norwegian kindergarten teacher education, it all started back in 2009 with the whitepaper “Quality in the kindergarten” (Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2009). Quality requirements in the kindergarten naturally led to consequences for the kindergarten teacher education as well. In 2010 the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) presented an evaluation of the education. NOKUT found that the intake quality was low, the competence at the educational institutions were low and the quality of graduates was very varied (NOKUT, 2010). The Norwegian government responded quickly by appointing a committee with the aim of developing a new and modernized kindergarten teacher education. The new education was launched in 2012 (Sataøen & Trippestad, 2015).
The main research questions are: What is the prevailing quality-discourse in the Norwegian kindergarten teacher education, and who has constructed it? This article is a part of a project that study Norwegian kindergarten teacher education in a policy-design perspective.
Politics does not occur in an isolated vacuum away from the surroundings. “Policy design, like any kind of designs, involves the pursuit of valued outcomes through activities sensitive to the context of time and place” (Bobrow & Dryzek, 1987). At the same time it is an important notion that policy shapes the context and vice versa (Ball, Maguire & Brown, 2012). Ingram & Schneiders (1997) model of policy studies presents three areas; 1) Policy design, 2) Societal context and, 3) Issue context. The first area, policy design deals with identifying goals and problems, agents and implementation structures, targets, rules and tools, and rationales and assumptions. The second area, societal context involves citizenship, democratic values, justice and problem solving. The last area, issue context deals with social constructions, political power, and institutions and institutional culture (ibid). This article aims to address the last area, the social constructions and the political power by studying central governance documents and the process that led to them. Who is included or excluded from the policy making-process?
In order to say anything about what quality-discourse that is the applicable, it will be necessary to categorize into different understandings of what quality might be. Harvey & Green (1993) suggested five different categories for thinking about quality in higher education; 1) quality as the exceptional, 2) quality as perfection and consistency, 3) quality as fitness for purpose, 4) quality as value for money and 5) quality as transformation. These categories are theoretical and not mutually exclusive.
Theory has led to operationalization and further concretization of the main research questions. Following questions will be sought answer to; who participated in the making of the new education? What role did they play? What kind of understanding of quality did the actors have? The article is based upon a qualitative case study were the collected material consists of both documents and interviews. The idea is that the documents and the interviews should complement each other and therefore be able to provide better insight and opportunity to answer the research questions. The documents are central governance documents, such as laws, national curriculum and national guidelines for the kindergarten teacher education. In addition to this, documents from the official consultation-process held by the authorities were stakeholders were invited to comment on the proposal for a new education also will be examined. The documents will be analysed by the means of NVivo. The aim for the content analyse is to try to discover quality-discourses. Discourses are systems for producing a set of statements and practises that is more or less determinants for their carriers and have a certain degree of regularity (Neumann, 2001). The interview-material will contain selected interviews with policy-makers and stakeholders that participated in the consultation process. The interviews are performed as semi-structured interviews, later transcribed and analysed by the means of NVivo. Both the interviews and the documents will be categorized in line with the presented framework from Harvey & Green.
This article is currently work in progress, but some early findings will be presented. In the consultation process the Norwegian minister of education asked for response to the proposal for a new Framework plan for the Kindergarten education and a set of national guidelines for the education. Both of the documents highlights improving quality as the main goal. In total 107 stakeholders were invited to give their opinion, only 41 of these choose to respond. This includes all the institutions that are offering kindergarten teacher education. Very few of these institutions were addressing the quality concept in their statement and those who actually did address it there were few who challenged the minister’s definition of quality. In fact most of the education institutions were quite positive to the minister’s proposal of introducing national guidelines for the education with quality measurements. Some remaining and quite big questions should be investigated further though. 107 stakeholders were included in the consultation process. Were there anyone that obviously should have been consulted excluded from the process? Were there anyone challenging the minister’s definition of quality, and if so how? And last, but not least what kind of quality concept is applicable and who is the constructor behind it?
Ball, Stephen J.; Maguire, Meg & Braun, Annette (2012) How schools do policy Policy enactments in secondary school. Routledge. Oxon Bobrow, Davis B & Dryzek, John S (1987) Policy analysis by design. University of Pittsburg Press. Pittsburg Christensen, Tom & Lægreid, Per (2011) New Public Management. The Ashgate research company. Farnham. Christensen, Tom; Egeberg, Morten; Larsen, Helge O.; Lægreid, Per & Roness, Paul G. (2010) Forvaltning og politikk. Universitetsforlaget. Oslo Harvey, Lee & Green, Diana (1993) Defining quality. Assessment and evaluation i Higher Education 18 (1), 9-34 Ingram, Helen & Schneider, Anne (1997) Policy design for democracy. University Press of Kansas. Kansas Kunnskapsdepartementet (2009) Kvalitet i barnehagen. Stortingsmelding 41 (2008-2009). Available from: https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/stmeld-nr-41-2008-2009-/id563868/?ch=1&q [Downloaded 14.03.2016] Neumann, Iver B. (2001) Mening, materialitet, makt: En innføring i diskursanalyse. Fagbokforlaget Vigmostad & Bjørke AS. Bergen. NOKUT (2010) Evaluering av førskolelærerutdanningen i Norge 2010. Del 1: Hovedrapport. NOKUT Sataøen, Svein Ole & Trippestad, Tom Are (2015) Den nye barnehagelærarutdanninga – bakgrunn, iverksetjing og reformutfordringar. Norsk Pedagogisk tidsskrift 6/2015/Årgang 99 s 434-448. Universitetsforlaget Trippestad, Tom Are; Swennen, Anja & Werler, Tobias (2017) The Struggle for teacher education, Introduction In Trippestad, Tom Are; Swennen, Anja & Werler, Tobias [Red] The Struggle for teacher education. Bloomsbury Academic. London, UK Øgård, Morten (2005) New Public Management – fornyelse eller fortapelse av den kommunale egenart? i Baldersheim og Rose [Red] Det Kommunale laboratorium, s 25-47. Fagbokforlaget. Bergen
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