Assessing and ensuring preschool quality in Slovenia – a systemic analysis and overview of the current state of affairs Mojca Kovač Šebart and Andreja Hočevar
Summary: The authors analyze the systemic solutions of assessing and ensuring preschool quality at the process level and address the questions of whether and how quality policies at the global level influence the considerations and solutions of preschool quality evaluation in Slovenia. The documents adopted by many organizations at the global level focus increasingly on assessing quality in terms of its effectiveness, and the effectiveness is related to society’s economic development and strength, as well as the “added value” to which preschool education programs contribute. Emphasis is placed on the children’s fitness for school, and the effectiveness of preschool education is measured in terms of the children’s school and life achievements (employability, welfare). The authors of the article rely on the thesis that quality preschool education should plan, conduct and evaluate the educational process in pursuit of the goal of educating a free, autonomous and critical subject. Quality indicators at the process level define the key points that impact the quality of preschool education and that are reflected in the child’s social and emotional responses, communication, behavior, and the acquisition of new experience and knowledge. Therefore, they start by considering the concept of the current Preschool Curriculum (Kurikulum za vrtce 1999), because it is crucial in designing and understanding the evaluation of educational work in preschools. They conclude that the Preschool Curriculum (ibid.) is designed in a way that perceives the process of education as a goal in itself with a value of its own, taking precedence over the results that children attending preschool should attain. They also analyze the solutions that relate to the models of preschool quality assessment and assurance in Slovenia. They demonstrate that despite two projects financed in the past to establish and successfully evaluate a conceptually well thought out model of preschool self-evaluation, decision-makers have not been building on their further development or implementation in preschools. Rather, they have focused on the development of a new “common model” of quality evaluation for the entire educational vertical, which emphasizes learning and teaching children and their achievements. The authors write that still today we know little about important aspects of preschool process quality. The latter requires preschool educators to evaluate critically (and monitor) an educational process that foregrounds the child’s development and learning in interaction with adults and preschool peers. This also means we know little about whether the educational process is planned and conducted to work toward the goal of educating a free, autonomous and critical subject. The decision-makers (i.e., financing policies) are simply not interested.