How to optimize the impact of school self-evaluation

How to optimize the impact of school self-evaluation on learning?

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school self-evaluation

School self-evaluation is a process in which school staff members reflect on their practice and identify areas for improvement in the areas of pupil and professional learning. The process can be found on several continua that define its exact nature and reflect the context in which it occurs. These dimensions are as follows: summative-formative; internally-externally driven and whether self-evaluation is done top-down or bottom-up.

Furthermore, schools should consider their context and the best position to maximize the impact of school self-evaluation on student and professional learning.

Teachers and school administrators are the main change agents in schools, and self-evaluation is an essential but insufficient component to promote school reform. The process of improving a school is broken down into the following five steps:

  • Phase 1 focuses on a specific intervention and emphasizes the significance of culture in any change process
  • Phase 2 focuses on teacher action research and school self-review
  • Phase 3 builds on the growing body of knowledge regarding school effectiveness
  •  Phase 4 involves scaling up reforms
  •  Phase 5 involves systemic reform

To gather a variety of data from different sources and guide action to enhance student and professional learning, school self-evaluation should be carried out within a cohesive framework and supported by a set of structures.

Purpose of school self-evaluation:

  • Preparation for inspection 
  • Raising standards
  • Professional development 
  • Building school capacity to respond to and manage change

The desire to improve is a fundamental human and professional responsibility, and the focus here is on school self-evaluation for school improvement. School self-evaluation and practice are concerned with making schools “better” places for students, teachers, and the wider community, and practice has traditionally relied on teacher engagement through continuing professional development. 

This approach of self-evaluation has frequently drawn on the principles of inquiry, reflection, and self-review. There are two ways to define “school improvement.” It can be used to describe efforts made to make schools better places for students; alternatively, it can be used in a more technical sense to describe the processes that contribute to raising student achievement.

The foundation of current school improvement research and practice is the idea that enhancing organizational culture and capacity can help enhance student outcomes. Students and teachers are at the center of improvement initiatives because supporters of schools tend to see improvement as a bottom-up approach to change rather than a top-down one.

Also Read: Building a growth mindset for teachers: Amplify their work and reap the benefits

The school self-evaluation reveals a plethora of blend options. The following are four key areas that appear to be good places to start:

  • In-place structures and processes: To what extent do the structures and processes in place within the system, school, and classroom promote the conditions for an internally driven, bottom-up approach to self-evaluation to promote student and professional learning?
  • Leadership strength: To what extent does the system, school, and classroom leadership have an appetite for an internally driven, bottom-up approach to self-evaluation to promote student and professional learning?
  • Relationships and politics: How secure and trusting are the relationships and politics across the system, school, and classroom to promote an internally driven, bottom-up approach to self-evaluation to promote student and professional learning?
  • Change and improvement capacity: To what extent is the system, school, and classroom improvement capacity at an appropriate stage of development to ignite and sustain an internally driven, bottom-up approach to self-evaluation to promote student and professional learning?

Research on the interaction between the external review and school self-evaluation offers some useful insights into three models for school self-evaluation:

  • Parallel: simultaneous operation of two systems (internal and external evaluation), each with its evaluations and standards
  • Sequential: An external review body bases its inspection on the results of the school’s self-evaluation
  • Cooperative: When outside organizations and schools work together to create a common evaluation strategy. Every model often fits inside a specific policy environment in systems that are extremely centralized and akin to markets

The school self-evaluation highlights some of the key tensions associated with promoting professional and student learning through school self-evaluation. In some ways, they provide alternative perspectives, but caution is advised. They are not mutually exclusive alternatives; instead, we have a set of false dichotomies. For example, we’re not talking about goals that involve either accountability or development; life can’t be divided into summative or formative actions. 

The drivers for self-evaluation are found both outside and inside the organization; there are both external and internal drivers. Similarly, self-evaluation is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but rather a hybrid of the two.

Schools should develop a process for themselves that is straightforward and integrated with their regular management systems. Schools must pay attention to and act on the opinions of their stakeholders.

Rigorous self-evaluation helps schools to improve; it should not be done solely for inspection. A school should update its documented summary of its self-evaluation process at least once a year and include information on how its actions have affected students; statements and lists of efforts are useless.

 

Read related articles:

1: What is Integrated Learning and how it benefits students?

2: Understanding Different Learning Styles in Students and How to Cater to Them

3: Top 5 benefits of hands-on learning experiences for students

 

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