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Universal access = Universal testing?

Hesterman, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7491-5527 (2015) Universal access = Universal testing? In: 25th EECERA Conference: Innovation, Experimentation and Adventure in Early Childhood, 7 - 10 September 2015, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona


The aim of this qualitative research is to investigate the tensions that exist when educators, seeking a paradigm shift from focusing on individualistic developmental programming of literacy instruction to recognising the socially constructed nature of learning literacy, do so in an education system unreceptive to cultural and linguistic diversity. Western Australia leads the nation in universal access to Early Childhood Education (ECE), however, this does not mean that high quality programmes are provided (Hesterman, 2014). On entry to school, children’s rich and diverse ways of knowing, thinking and doing are increasingly overlooked by educators as they prepare children for standardised achievement tests (Jay, Hesterman & Knaus, 2014). Theoretically, the paper applies a social constructivist approach to examine educators' understanding of quality curriculum and assessment within the context of universal access to ECE. This project investigates notions of ‘quality’ from the perspective of ten early childhood educators. Yielding rich descriptive data collected during semi-structured interviews, findings suggest that universal access to ECE is followed by universal ‘teaching to the test’. The study adheres to the ethical principles, values and behaviours set by the Murdoch University Code of Ethics (2010). Principles of justice, respect and responsible care have guided this research project. The design of learning programmes has changed to match the narrowly defined developmental pathway represented in standardised tests. This has implications for the rights of the child. Back-to-basics-teaching ‘intensity’ for the purposes of ‘hurrying the child’ raises serious questions concerning the educational cost of universal access to ECE.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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