Beyond Universal Measures of Early Childhood Education Quality: Understanding Parent, Teacher, and Policymaker Perspectives of Pre-primary Quality in Tanzania
Bethany Wilinski

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

Educational quality has gained prominence on the international development agenda. To address pervasive low academic achievement, the international development community has identified measurement and accountability as key levers of change for improving education quality. In early childhood education (ECE), a focus on measuring quality has resulted in the development of the Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes tool, which aims to generate globally comparable data about ECE quality. Yet, ideas of what constitutes quality in ECE are not universal. This study responds to efforts to create universalizing definitions and measures of ECE quality by examining how different stakeholders define quality in the context of pre-primary education in Tanzania. Rather than identify a “Tanzanian” view of pre-primary quality, the goal of this study is to challenge the idea that a singular “national” view of ECE quality exists. To better understand the scope and diversity of perspectives on quality in Tanzanian pre-primary education, I will conduct a multivocal, video-cued ethnography of stakeholders in socially and spatially different locations across Tanzania. By creating a “virtual conversation” among stakeholders—from policymakers to parents—this study will reveal the practical and theoretical complications that arise from current efforts to identify universal measures and definitions of ECE quality.
About Bethany Wilinski
Bethany Wilinski is an Assistant Professor in the department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her ethnographic research engages sociocultural policy analysis frameworks to examine policy enactment in the context of early childhood education in the U.S. and Tanzania. She is particularly interested in understanding how policy shapes the lived experience of pre- and in-service pre-kindergarten teachers. Her book When Pre-K Comes to School: Policy, Partnerships, and the Early Childhood Education Workforce (Teachers College Press, 2017) examines how teachers working in different institutional contexts enacted a district public pre-K policy through a school-community partnership. Her work has also been published in Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Educational Policy Analysis Archives. A former preschool and elementary school teacher, she holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies and Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s in International Educational Development from Teachers College.

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