EFA, the quality imperative and the problem of pedagogy
This monograph critically examines the emerging discourse on quality associated with Education for All (EFA). It provides a critique of typical quality indicator frameworks from international and EFA sources. It also investigates the empirical and conceptual basis for accounts and indicators of quality, and proposes criteria for assessing frameworks for evaluating the quality of classroom provision.
Arguing that at root the problem is as much conceptual as empirical and procedural, the paper proposes a map of the territory of pedagogy at the levels of ideas and action, together with principles of procedure to guide future work on indicators and measures of quality in the EFA context. It is also argued that EFA discourse has moved from a commitment to quality to its measurement without adequate consideration of what quality entails, particularly in the vital domain of pedagogy. Pedagogy is often the missing ingredient in EFA discussion of quality. Meanwhile, the demand for quality indicators has left important methodological questions unanswered. It notes a concern with input and context at the expense of process, an arbitrariness in what is focused upon, an excessive use of proxies, neglect of international pedagogical research, and fundamental confusions about the key terms ‘quality’, ‘indicators’ and ‘measures’.
The paper concludes by suggesting principles of procedure for the handling of matters pertaining to quality in pedagogy. These include:
- clearly separate, conceptually and procedurally, the defining of pedagogical indicators from the development of measures. Treat this as the essential first step to devising measures of quality
- do not rely exclusively on school effectiveness research. Instead, plug the EFA debate about pedagogy and pedagogical quality into the richer and more extensive mainstream of international research on learning and teaching
- note that although the greatest need is to fill out the process dimension of quality, the outcome dimension needs attention too. Using test scores in literacy and numeracy alone is not acceptable
- do not try to plug the gap by the over-use of proxies. This, again, arises from too exclusive a concern with measures. If an aspect of pedagogy is important, then it should register in its own right.