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Application of 'Quality' Criteria to Different Early Childhood Services


By Sarah Alexander (Paper presented at the Vth European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Seville, Spain, September 1992).

This paper reports a section of findings from a study about quality in early childhood centres in NZ.

A multiple perspective values-based approach was taken to examine the importance and relevance of criteria of quality for nine kindergartens, childcare centres and playcentres.

Centre quality was rated by head staff members and independent observers using a rating scale (The Quality Review Checklist) developed as part of the study to field-test the specificity of criteria believed in research and within social and educational policy to be important for quality.

Parent and staff views on the importance of various goals and the criteria were obtained.

This paper presents the findings and discusses the relevance of a small number of the criteria as measures of quality for different types of centres.

Message from the Author:  This is an old paper that illustrates the beginning of a shift in thinking from the researcher determining the variables of quality (the "we know what quality is" attitude of researchers working under the traditional approach) to seeking input from teachers and administrators. Rating scales for measuring centre quality should also be a thing of the past as we [should] view quality now, not as something that can be measured across services or even across different services in different countries, but as what is remarkable (what makes a positive and additive difference) from the perspective, experience, and benefits gained by individual children and their families.

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