The significance of accountability mandates in early childhood classrooms: exploring challenges to constructivist perspectives

Price, Elaine (2017) The significance of accountability mandates in early childhood classrooms: exploring challenges to constructivist perspectives. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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The mandated reforms and accountability measures imposed upon Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the United States via the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act have had
significant impact on the experience of teachers. Opinion has been divided as the educational priority of policy-makers differs from and constrains what many ECE practitioners consider as developmentally appropriate pedagogy. Many argue that developmentally appropriate
teaching in ECE has been usurped by the imposition of standardized testing regimes and the time required for test preparation. In addition, explicit teaching practices and a focus on academics, rather than learning through play and other holistic practices, have epistemologically challenged constructivist approaches to contemporary practice. The
governmental policy assumption has been that the measurement of a child’s knowledge will improve outcomes. As a result, (and as a broad global phenomenon) ECE has become under increasing pressure to prepare young children through a service provision that requires testing
to deliver outcomes that are measurable. In order to develop insight into how mandated reforms have been managed ‘at the coalface’ this study investigates the lived experience of a purposive sample of 10 volunteer ECE practitioners. The investigation sets out to discover
how the new reforms have created dilemmas in their practice and how they manage the introduced mandates in light of their epistemological beliefs and perspectives regarding play and other holistic, developmentally appropriate educational practices.

The study takes a phenomenological case study approach that is designed to generate researcher rapport and sensitivity to the views and lived experience of participants and also to allow their voices to be heard. In addition, a constructivist grounded theory method explicates important themes identified through a theoretical lens that views a range of dilemmas as they arise in pedagogical practice.

This study deepens our understanding of the issues and dilemmas faced by ECE practitioners as they adapt to impositions on pedagogical practice. The findings affirm that the perspectives of teachers matter and they highlight the value attributed to the importance of play as part of ECE pedagogy. In addition, insight is presented into the complex decision making processes required when pragmatically adapting to and navigating constraining
workplace conditions.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Education (EdD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - No Department
Supervisors: Noble, Karen; Cleaver, David
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2018 03:01
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2018 06:43
Uncontrolled Keywords: United States; early childhood education; early childhood educators; accountability; testing; play; No Child Left Behind Act
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori)
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/5c060eb58a82c

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