ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 7

ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 7

ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 7

Autumn 2006

EDITORIAL

D. Mattheou

CONTENTS

As shown by its title, this essay looks at the matter of the evaluation of educators and educational work, during the period of the political changeover. Traditionally, the responsibility of evaluating educators had been vested in Inspectors. However, as the 21st April regime had used Inspectors for political purposes, their function had been intensely challenged, and was finally abolished by the PASOK government, in 1982. After 1982, when the function of Inspectors was replaced by that of School Advisers, the responsibility of evaluation was given to the latter. However the teachers’ unions disagreed with bringing personal evaluation back, and declared their position firmly, using a variety of arguments. One of these is that the intention of civil authority is to bring back “inspectorism”, autocratic and hierarchical relationships in education and the control of the educators’ political and ideological positions, through such evaluation. Since then, and despite the fact that the political parties and the governments of PASOK and New Democracy tried to establish evaluation, they have been steadily blocked by the forceful, effective oppositions of educational organisations. The educational organisations’ rejection is reinforced by the fact that the political position for evaluation is confused and often, self-contradictory. If the force of the union reactions may be traced to the negative inheritance of “inspectorism”, the ease with which the relevant legal texts are overruled has to be traced to the client character of our political system and the party spirit which infiltrates Greek society, not excluding of course, the educational organisations. The way the matter of evaluation has progressed during the period of political changeover shows that it has developed into a political problem, which is now difficult to solve. The final result of the opposition of the educational organisations to the matter of evaluation, the client relationships and the party spirit, is reflected on the one hand, on the non-implementation of as many as four laws, two presidential decrees and a ministerial decision and on the other hand, on the numerous drafts of presidential decrees, which were similarly, never put in legal force.

This paper consists of two parts: the first is an introduction to the general framework of educational evaluation and assessment, with the emphasis on its necessity and specific parameters on the problems arising in the process. The second and main part presents a review of the relevant literature after 1960. It offers a critical survey of the general field of educational evaluation and of prevailing trends in the relevant discourses and applications within the EEC, and in particular, in Greece.

Within this framework we focus on the crucial question of what is the ultimate aim of education today: is it just to provide students with the working knowledge necessary for them to compete and thrive within our continuously demanding society of information? Or does it seek to shape an academic environment of humanistic learning orientated towards the increasingly fading values of freedom, justice and peace? It is our strong belief that such questions should be at the heart of the current discourse of educational practices as valid and crucial for the process of developing existing educational policies and forming new ones for the future.

The last few decades school textbooks have been the subject of research analysis, which has used many different criteria and models for this purpose. In this paper we present an evaluation framework, appropriate for analyzing and evaluating textbooks both at the macro-level of the total structure of the textbook and at the micro-level of the individual chapters of the textbook. The aim of both levels of analysis is to evaluate how well the textbook being analyzed is functioning as a resource supporting the act of teaching and the process of learning. The main principle which keeps the levels and the functions of the framework tied together is the Vygotskyan principle of   mediation. Textbooks are expected to mediate learning and the proposed framework is   examining and evaluating the various facets of this mediation

This article describes how curriculum evaluation is conducted and it delineates the variety of factors that ought to be taken into consideration during this process.  In addition to the factors of curriculum evaluation the difficulties encountered before, during and after the evaluation process are identified and discussed. These difficulties include the definitions of terms such as curriculum and evaluation, how can evaluators maintain their objectivity, which evaluation approach is more valid and other related matters.

To this end, various types of approaches are discussed such as the formative and summative evaluation, the scientific, the humanistic, the responsive, the ecological or naturalist evaluation as well as other. Furthermore, the characteristics of curriculum evaluation criteria, such as measurability, validity, reliability, etc, are briefly analyzed.

In order that a more objective curriculum evaluation be conducted certain processes are proposed and analyzed, such as collecting data from a variety of sources and at multiple levels, the application of general and indigenous criteria, the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, techniques and stages.

From the various stages that were reviewed for curriculum evaluation the following six were selected and proposed. These stages of curriculum evaluation are:

a) The preliminary stage, (which includes four substages-the preassessement of curriculum, the conceptualization of assessment, the preassessment of cost and of human resources for curriculum evaluation and the selection of staff-) aims at conducting a preassessment of the curriculum used and of the educational system; b) the planning stage of curriculum evaluation which consists of two substages-(the selection of curriculum evaluation design and the planning of the actual process of curriculum evaluation-) refers to the planning processes regarding “what” and “how” curriculum will be evaluated; c) the implementation stage of curriculum evaluation and collecting of the data during which the evaluation criteria are applied and the data are collected; d) the organization and data analysis stage which includes two substages-(organization and analysis)- purports to organize and decode all collected data; e) the stage for the interpretation and reporting of data during which the data are interpreted and reported; and f) the management of data and metaanalysis stage (which includes two substages- data management for curriculum evaluation and postevaluation-) attempts to make recommendations for improving the whole evaluation process as well as conduct follow up procedures for the revalidation of the results.

Finally, curriculum evaluation attempts in Greece are briefly discussed and studies are reviewed which show that no systematic evaluation procedures have taken place to evaluate the national curriculum by the state. The few studies conducted by individual researchers, analyze some of the factors and processes of the curriculum in Greece. This lack of curriculum evaluation in Greece created an unbridgeable gap which conserved and reproduced the structures of the national curriculum in Greece instead of reforming and changing it via an ongoing curriculum evaluation.

According to organisational theory and new institutionalism any intervention into complex social systems will produce unintended or even contra-productive side-effects. Taking the 

well established theoretical assumptions  of these two fields as a starting point the author argues that the introduction of elaborate evaluation measures into an education system which can be regarded as a massive intervention into the ‘grammar of schooling’ will also produce discrepancies between intended and achieved effects. This assumption is ‘tested’ by analysing and comparing the empirical evidence available on the aims and effects of school evaluation in England and Sweden. The analysis shows that the aims of school evaluation can be paradoxical and that they can be achieved in different ways. In addition, there is strong empirical evidence that the introduction of school evaluation into the English and Swedish education system has also generated unpredicted, unwanted and even contra-productive side-effects. Any attempt to introduce elaborate evaluation systems into any given school system should therefore try to minimize discrepancies between intended and achieved effects of school evaluation. The article finishes by giving conceptual and practical recommendations which could help to minimize these discrepancies.