IMPROVING SCHOOL
GOVERNANCE

2.1 Evaluate and diagnose

Why is this topic important?

Self-evaluation supports the ‘evaluate and diagnose’ part of the Improvement Cycle process.

Schools monitor their improvement efforts and student outcomes by using a range of data and the Improvement Measures to form an integrated overview of their progress and prepare for the next steps in their improvement journey.

Evaluation provides an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which the school achieved its goals from the four-year strategic plan and the annual implementation plan. It describes progress in priority areas known to have an impact on student outcomes. This means that the whole school community, including students, parents/carers and all staff, reflect on the observed outcomes, acknowledge and celebrate achievements; identify effective strategies as well as areas for improvement during the next planning period.

It enables the school community to reflect on what the school has achieved and to influence where it is headed. The community can do this by contributing to discussion about:

  • how well the school is meeting the community’s expectations
  • where the school could improve its performance
  • what the school’s priorities should be going forward.

There are two types of School self-evaluation:

  • Annual Implementation Plan – self-evaluation using the Continua of Practice, and
  • Pre-review self-evaluation - generally every four years as part of the School Review process

The Annual self-evaluation section of the Annual Implementation Plan enables schools to continuously collect, monitor and analyse school data about all aspects of school performance. This ensures that all aspects of school performance are considered throughout the year and that any risks, issues and opportunities are identified as they emerge. The Annual self-evaluation against the Continua of Practice should be completed as data becomes available.

Prior to the review process, schools conduct a thorough pre-review self-evaluation that looks back at the impact of their improvement efforts over the four year period of the previous school Strategic Plan. Once completed the school moves into a peer or priority review, which involves an accredited school reviewer working with the school, the Senior Education Improvement Leader from the region, the school council president and selected challenge partners (in peer review), to look at the school’s performance and inform strategies for improvement. The self-evaluation report will usually be completed and communicated to the community at least two weeks prior to commencement of the review.

The pre-review self-evaluation and the school review inform the development of the school’s new four-year Strategic Plan. This plan is then operationalised through Annual Implementation Plans.

On completing this unit, school councillors should be able to:

  • understand the evidence related to school improvement
  • identify how the school community could engage with the self-evaluation process
  • consider the school self-evaluation report for endorsement
  • understand the school review process, including the school council president’s role and the way the school community could be involved.

The pre-review self-evaluation

The principal and leadership team are responsible for evaluating their improvement efforts by drawing together the evidence of the school’s performance and feedback from community consultations. The FISO provides advice and support to schools through a process that prompts schools to reflect on their practice and performance.

The principal will provide the outcome of the self-evaluation process to the school council for consideration and endorsement.

To provide feedback, councillors should reflect on the adequacy of the process to ensure that evidence from a wide range of sources has been considered to provide an accurate and agreed picture of the school’s context and improvement. They should be satisfied that the process aligns with the Department’s self-evaluation guidelines and that the views of the community are reflected.

The following table shows how the principal and staff, school councillors, and the school community (including parents, students and other interested people) would typically be involved in the pre-review self-evaluation process. This self-evaluation would usually be completed and communicated to the community at least two weeks prior to the school undertaking the review.

 

 

The principal will …

Councillors will typically …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

The school
community might …

  • plan the self-evaluation and timeline
  • review the plan and timeline for the self-evaluation
  • support the school with planning for self-evaluation
 
  • brief the school and its community about the self-evaluation process
     
  • organise consultations with the council and school community
  • participate in working groups
  • participate in consultations with the school community
  • provide support where necessary
  • contribute to surveys
  • participate in parent meetings and focus groups
  • gather and analyse data
  • provide support and challenge where necessary
  • provide support to analyse and interpret data and challenge where necessary
  • engage with the data and findings
  • prepare the outcomes of the self-evaluation process for reporting and endorsement
  • keep everyone informed about the contents of the self-evaluation
  • support the self-evaluation process
  • provide input into and feedback on the self-evaluation
 
  • prepare the final outcomes of the self-evaluation for council endorsement
  • endorse the outcomes of the self-evaluation
  • endorse the outcomes of the self-evaluation
 
  • when the school is due for review, forward the outcomes of the self-evaluation to the reviewer, peers and Senior Education Improvement Leader
   
  • engage with the outcomes of the evaluation process via the school newsletter or other communication

 

Endorsing the self-evaluation

The principal will present the outcomes of the self-evaluation to council for endorsement. Councillors should satisfy themselves that:

the evaluation provides a valid explanation of the school’s practice and performance

all relevant facts and opinions were assessed in the process of developing the report

the conclusions flow reasonably and logically from the information and data gathered.

The amount of time that council spends discussing the self-evaluation will depend in part on the degree of councillors’ involvement in the process. For example, the council of a small school might have been very hands-on and councillors would be very familiar with the contents. At a large school, working groups might have been involved in evaluating different aspects or initiatives of the school in preparation for the school-wide process.

Once the self-evaluation is endorsed, the principal briefs staff on the outcomes of the process and school council determines how best to communicate the findings of the self-evaluation to the community.

Establishing evidence of school performance

Information (evidence) from a range of sources is important in understanding a school’s improvement and performance. In the school self-evaluation, school improvement and performance is reviewed against the four FISO priority areas - Excellence in teaching and learning, Professional leadership, Positive climate for learning, Community engagement in learning - as well as the three outcome areas of the Improvement Measures - achievement, engagement, and wellbeing.

Achievement

Achievement refers to both the absolute levels of learning attainment and growth in student learning that schools strive to support.

While recognising that literacy and numeracy are essential foundations for students’ success, achievement outcomes encompass a broader view of learning, spanning the full range of curriculum domains, as well as students’ co-curricular achievements.

Student learning outcomes relate to what students know and can do. Schools develop and implement curriculum and report on achievement of student learning outcomes using data relating to:

National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

Every year, all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are assessed using national tests in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

Victorian Curriculum 

The curriculum for Victorian schools is set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). The Victorian Curriculum Foundation–10 (F–10) sets out what every student should learn during their first eleven years of schooling. The curriculum is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for life-long learning, social development and active and informed citizenship. The Victorian Curriculum F–10 incorporates the Australian Curriculum and reflects Victorian priorities and standards.

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 sets out a single, coherent and comprehensive set of content descriptions and associated achievement standards to enable teachers to plan, monitor, assess and report on the learning achievement of every student.

Student learning outcomes for students supported under the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)

Schools with PSD students assess their learning outcomes in relation to student progress in achieving the goals in their individual learning plans.

English and Mathematics online interviews

Along with teachers’ judgements in English, as an Additional Language (EAL) and Mathematics, school achievement in literacy and numeracy outcomes is also measured in the English online interview, the Mathematics online interview and the Fractions and Decimals online interview.

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework

This builds continuity between the first years of schooling and the learning and development that precede these years. This Framework describes the key learning  and development outcomes for children from birth to eight and links to the first stages of the AusVELS.

Senior secondary certificates and programs

Student learning outcomes in the senior secondary years are defined as attainment in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and Vocational Education and Training (VET in schools), including school-based new apprenticeships. Information on this area is provided through school performance data available on the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS) and through the VCE data service.

Other information

At the school level, schools also collect information on student learning using a range of school developed and commercially produced assessment strategies and instruments.

Engagement

Engagement refers to the extent to which students feel connected to and engaged in their learning and with the broader school community. Engagement spans  students’ motivation to learn, as well as their active involvement in learning. Engagement also refers to students’ engagement as they make critical transitions through school and beyond into further education and work.

Measures of student engagement include student attendance, students’ ratings of their connectedness to school and motivation to learn (Student Attitudes to School Survey for students in Years 5 to 12), teachers' assessments of students’ motivation (School Staff Survey) and  parents’ perceptions of the school climate (Parent Opinion Survey). Information collected at the school level can also be used.

The Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance provide advice for schools about improving student engagement, attendance and positive behaviours.

Wellbeing

Students’ health, safety and wellbeing are essential to learning and development. An inclusive, safe, orderly and stimulating environment for learning is critical to achieving and sustaining students’ positive learning experiences.

Measures of student wellbeing include student safety, morale and respect (Student Attitudes to School Survey). Information collected at the school level can also be used.

 

Additional outcomes data

Other outcomes data available for children that may be relevant for primary schools include:

  • the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) – This is a population measure that provides information on how children are faring and the success of early childhood services in supporting children and families prior to a child’s entry to school. The AEDI is a summary indicator of children’s progress and how well children are faring relative to others based on areas of early childhood development.
  • the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS) - This reports on the safety, health, learning, development and wellbeing of children and young people in Victoria. This data is reported against the 150 VCAMS indicators and provides a sound basis to support school strategic planning. This data is published in annual reports as well as community level profiles.

Data analysis

The principal and leadership team will use the data to:

  • examine trends, to see how performance has changed over time
  • consider the achievements of specific groups of students to assess their performance
  • analyse outcomes for individuals and groups of students as they move from one year level to the next through the school
  • evaluate differences in outcomes between different skill areas within English and Mathematics
  • make comparisons with state averages or statewide information about schools with similar student backgrounds.

An annual summary of each school’s performance is provided through the School Performance Summary (included as part of each school’s Annual Report to the School Community) and is available on line on the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority State Register.

This information covers a summary of the school’s performance in student achievement, engagement, wellbeing and productivity. It also provides information about whether a school, taking into account its students, is performing higher than, lower than, or broadly similar to other Victorian schools with a similar student intake. A more detailed School Summary Report is made available to the school principal.

The self-evaluation process will contribute to council’s understanding of the school’s performance. This process may include:

  • engaging in discussions and presentations about data by the principal
  • participating in working groups
  • collecting information from areas relevant to the school community.

Multiple sources of information will enable a school to make better decisions about how to improve its performance. It is important not to draw conclusions from one set of data, but to try to use a range of sources to understand the various factors that are contributing to an aspect of the school’s performance.

Understandably, many councillors will not have experience in analysing data. The principal will explain to councillors the relevance of each set of data to school performance and will help councillors make sense of some specialised data, such as NAPLAN results.

The key points to remember with data analysis are that:

  • absolute scores are useful for specifying targets and measuring increase or decrease in scores
  • relative scores are useful for comparing one school’s performance with schools with students from a similar background.

Councillors also need to be aware of the importance of maintaining confidentiality in respect of the data they may examine during the school self-evaluation process.

Engaging the school community

When considering how best to consult with its community, a school might consider what form of consultation has worked well before, the resources available to the school for consultation, and the geographic spread and diversity of the community.

Opportunities for face-to-face consultations include:

  • inviting the community to participate in forums to discuss the school’s performance and its directions, making interpreters available if necessary
  • holding small group discussions with parents/guardians, where performance data is presented and responses sought
  • forming working groups to undertake a particular evaluation task.

Other considerations

Small group discussions might also be an option if the school community is geographically dispersed, or has significant numbers of people who speak languages other than English. In these cases, the principal working with school councillors could:

  • convene small group discussions in places, at times and in languages that suit participants
  • talk to community organisations (such as cultural groups or local aboriginal education consultative groups in the case of Koorie families).

Other opportunities for consultation include:

  • surveys of parents/guardians, asking for comments and opinions
  • providing information about the self-evaluation in the school newsletter with an invitation to readers to comment
  • suggestion boxes where people can leave their comments.

School review

School reviews provide analysis of current school improvement, performance and practice, and should make a positive contribution to the school’s efforts to improve student outcomes. There are two types of review: peer review and priority review.

Schools undertaking a peer review select at least two peers from across the system and an accredited reviewer to conduct the review, in consultation with their Senior Education Improvement Leader.

Schools undertaking a priority review are supported by an independent reviewer, or team of reviewers, who carry out an intensive analysis of the school’s performance. Following a priority review, a design team led by the Senior Education Improvement Leader tailors support to the school based on its diagnosed needs.

A School Review and Intervention Services Panel has been established through which schools can access accredited reviewers and intervention specialists.

All school reviews include a registration requirements check against relevant regulatory standards.

In advance of a review, terms of reference are co-constructed by the principal, Senior Improvement Education Leader and the reviewer, to identify the purpose and methodology for the review.

In peer review, the peer review panel, comprising the principal, reviewer, Senior Education Improvement Leader, school council president and challenge partners, co-develop the terms of reference and methodology for the review.

In peer review, the school council president (or their representative) attends the all review panel meetings and provides feedback to the council. In priority review, they contribute to the fieldwork as required.

The following table outlines how councillors, the principal and leadership team, Senior Education Improvement Leader and school reviewer would typically be involved in the review process.

The principal will …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

School councillors will …

The reviewer will …

  • In collaboration with the SEIL, select and engage a reviewer
  • collaborate with the principal to select a reviewer and challenge partners

    attest on behalf of the principal and school council president that there is no conflict of interest in selecting the reviewer
  • the school council president endorses the terms of referecnes
  • support the development of the terms of reference by providing advice on the most appropriate methodology
  • provide the school pre-review self-evaluation and performance data to the reviewer, Senior Education Improvement Leader (priority review) and also school council president and challenge partners (peer review)
  • engage with and analyse the school’s data and self-evaluation
  • engage with and analyse school’s data and self-evaluation 
  • engage with and analyse school’s data and self-evaluation
  • engage with and analyse school’s data and self-evaluation
  • co-develop the terms of reference and methodology with the reviewer and the Senior Education Improvement Leader (priority review) and also with the school council president and challenge partners (peer review)
  • for peer reviews, engage at least two challenge partners to participate in the review in consultation with the Senior Education Improvement Leader
  • co-develop the terms of reference and methodology with the principal and reviewer (priority review) and also school council president and challenge partners (peer review) 
  • support the development of plans for the panel day (peer review) and field work days (priority review)
  • in peer review, the school council president is part of the peer review panel and attends both review days
  • in peer review, the school council president co-develops the terms of reference and methodology with the principal, reviewer, SEIL and challenge partners
  • for priority review, the school council president endorses the terms of reference
  • co-develop the terms of reference and methodology with the principal and SEIL (priority review) and also school council president and challenge partners (peer review)
  • coordinate the panel day activities (peer review) and fieldwork activities (priority review), in consultation with the reviewer and the Senior Education Improvement Leader
  • support the participation of staff, students and community members in reviewer-led focus groups, interviews etc. as required
  • guide and support review activities as necessary
  • guide and support review activities as necessary
  • participate in focus groups, interviews etc. as required
  • guide and support review activities as necessary 
  • chair the panel day for peer review
  • keep staff and council informed of the progress 
  • facilitate in the panel day for peer review
  • facilitate in the panel day for peer review
  • facilitate the panel day for peer review
  • check the accuracy of the draft review report
  • quality-assure the draft review report
  • endorse the final review report 
  • discuss the review report at school council
  • prepare and submit a review report
  • set-up review meetings with staff and school council where the review findings can be presented
  • may co-deliver review findings to meetings of staff and school council
  • participate in the presentation of the review findings at a school council meeting
  • for priority reviews, present review findings to meetings of staff and school council
  • participate in intervention design team (for priority review schools) to develop improvement strategies for the school
  • lead an intervention design team (for priority review schools) which will develop improvement strategies based on the review report diagnosis
 
  • may be involved in the first meeting of the intervention design team (for priority review schools) to present diagnosis
  • provide feedback to the Department on the quality of the review process through an online survey

Annual reporting

Each year schools prepare an Annual Report to the School Community. Through the Annual Report, schools communicate to their community: the success of their improvement initiatives, the effectiveness of resource allocation and their future directions for improvement. The Annual Report enables the school to meet legislative and regulatory requirements under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and the National Education Agreement 2008.

Schools use information they have documented from monitoring success criteria in their Annual Implementation Plan in the Annual Report. Annual Reporting informs parents/carers and the wider school community of the school's successes, activities and achievements throughout the year, and is a legislative requirement.

The school council must endorse the Annual Report. The following table shows how councillors, the principal and leadership team and the Senior Education Improvement Leader would typically be involved in the Annual Reporting process.

The principal will …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

Councillors will typically …

  • populate the Annual Report
  • table the completed Annual Report at a school council meeting for endorsement
  • provide quality assurance of the Annual Report where required
  • review and comment on the draft Annual Report

 

  • sign the annual report to attest that:

     

    - all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching(VIT) registered

    - the school has met the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for registration(except where any exceptions apply

    - all expenses and commitments of funds have been to support educational outcomes and operational needs

  • table the completed annual report at a school council meeting for endorsement
 
  • sign the annual report to attest that:

     

    - all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching(VIT) registered

    - the school has met the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) minimum standards for registration(except where any exceptions apply)

          - the school complies with the Child Safe                    Standards as prescribed in Ministerial Order                870

          - all expenses and commitments of funds have           been to support educational outcomes and                 operational needs

  • endorse the annual report
  • submit the endorsed Annual Report to the Department

  • organise a public meeting to present the annual report to school community
  • ensure that each member of the school community is provided with access to the report
  • provide support as required
  • attend and present to the public meeting (as appropriate)

Structure of the annual report

The annual report contains:

  • Cover page
  • About Our School statement
  • School Performance Summary
  • Financial Performance and Position Statement.
  • Schools download their Annual Report template from the School Performance Reporting website.

Approving the annual report

The annual report provides the community with information about the school’s performance in implementing their improvement strategies and how the school’s resources have been used.

Councillors need to be aware that:

  • an annual report must be produced each year, including the year in which the school is conducting its review and developing its new strategic plan
  • the annual report is tabled at a school council meeting for ratification and endorsement and must be forwarded to the Department by 30 April of the next year
  • School Council Presidents are required to attest that all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registered, the school is compliant with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority registration requirements and all expenses and commitments of funds have been to support educational outcomes and operational needs
  • the council must verify that the financial summary and commentary featured in the report are accurate and satisfy government requirements
  • the council’s endorsement of the annual report must be recorded in the school council minutes
  • school councils are required by law to hold a public meeting each year to present the report
  • the school’s annual report must be published on the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority’s State Register of Victorian Schools. This process is managed by the Department.

Resources and links

Title

Link

Framework for Improving Student Outcomes

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/educationstate/Pages/outcomes.aspx

Anual Reporting – internal eduGate site

https://edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edrms/project/fiso/SitePages/AnnualReporting.aspx

School Performance Information

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/management/Pages/performreports.aspx

 

Learning Activity