Why is School Self-evaluation important for school improvement?

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School Self evaluation

The main factor that makes a school stand out is the quality of education provided. One characteristic  some of the best schools have in common is continuous self evaluation – a school that undertakes continuous monitoring of its systems to identify the scope for improvement and implement school improvement plans tend to outshine the rest.

The following image helps define 5 domains that make an effective school:

School self evaluation
Standards designed by Cambridge International

Identifying which improvement plan to focus on is the key challenge and the best method to address this challenge is through school self-evaluation.

Overrule the Misconceptions: [Self-inspection: Self-evaluation]

Schools may think “we do have school inspections and so self-evaluation on a regular basis is not required”, however, the self-evaluation process helps schools improve, and integrate continuous improvement into their routine management systems.

The following cited differences can provide an insight into the need for regular School Self Evaluations:

Self-inspection 

Top-down

A one-off event

Provides a snapshot 

Time-consuming 

Accountability-focused 

Based on a rigid framework 

Uses existing predetermined criteria 

Can detract from teaching and learning 

Avoids risks 

Self-evaluation

Bottom-up 

Continuous 

Offers an evolving picture 

Time-saving 

Improvement-focused

Flexible and spontaneous 

Creates relevant criteria

Improves teaching and  learning 

Takes risks

Objectives of School Self-Evaluation:

School self-evaluation can be a fundamental force in achieving school improvement. The school self-evaluation intends to:

  • Impart continuous school improvement;
  • Prepare and empower the school to recognize its strengths and areas of improvement in a planned and guided manner; 
  • Create a collaborative culture with the active participation of all stakeholders in making professional judgments and decisions; 
  • Facilitate the school for continuous engagement and provide direction for incremental action

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

Key Questions a school should reflect upon before proceeding for Self-Evaluation:

School self-evaluation helps in identifying areas that need growth, modification, and improvement. The focus areas can be identified by Questioning techniques as follows:

  • How is the school currently performing? 
  • What are the school’s strengths? 
  • Which are the areas requiring improvement? 
  • What evidence is available to know the current status? 
  • How can the performance of the school be evaluated? 
  • What measures can be taken for improving the school’s performance?

School Self-Evaluation – Who, Why, When, What, and How?

  • Schools as a whole should engage in the self-evaluation process. All the stakeholders including the Head Teacher/ Principal, Teachers, Students, Parents, Members of the SMC/SDMC, and members of the immediate community should participate in the self-evaluation process.
  • Rigorous self-evaluation helps schools to improve; it should not be undertaken solely for the purpose of inspection 
  • Schools should shape for themselves a process that is simple and integrated with their routine management systems
  • Schools must listen to, consider and do something about the views of their stakeholders
  • The school’s recorded summary of its self-evaluation process (Ofsted’s self-evaluation form) should be updated at least annually and include information about the impact of its action on learners; assertions and lists of initiatives are not helpful
  • School Self-evaluation should be considered a continuous process. It is most effective when it is integrated into the day-to-day functioning of the school. The duration of the self-evaluation process may range from 2-6 months according to the context, size, and needs of the school.
  • School Self-evaluation needs to focus on the following themes: 
  • Developing a framework for self-evaluation 
  • Developing a structure for self-evaluation 
  • Listing participants in self-evaluation 
  • Collecting and using data for self-evaluation 
  • Making use of external perspectives in self-evaluation
  • School can use a Self-evaluation instrument – Sample Tool

School Self Evaluation is carried out in accordance with the National Policy on Whole-School Evaluation, Government Gazette Vol. 433: No. 22512 of 26 July 2001, Pretoria

The following are the key areas of evaluation as prescribed by the policy: 

  1. Quality of teaching and learning, and educator development
  2. Curriculum provision and resources
  3. Learner achievement
  4. Basic functionality of the school  
  5. Leadership, management, and communication
  6. Governance and relationships
  7. School safety, security, and discipline  
  8. School infrastructure
  9. Parents and community

The template of the School self-evaluation instrument can be used, and ratings from 1 to 5 for the above-mentioned key areas can be given according to the schools’ performance levels, and then improvement plans can be designed and implemented for school improvement.

 • The framework below highlights a six-step school self-evaluation process. The process is iterative, it facilitates repeated cycles of analysis or a return to a previous stage of the cycle as required. This supports the building of teachers’ expertise over time in looking at the evidence of pupils’ learning, analyzing it, interpreting it, and acting on it to improve outcomes.

Six-step school self-evaluation process
Six-step school self-evaluation process

School Self-evaluation themes to focus on: 

  • Developing a framework for self-evaluation 
  • Developing a structure for self-evaluation 
  • Listing participants in self-evaluation 
  • Collecting and using data for self-evaluation 
  • Making use of external perspectives in self-evaluation

Why is SSE important for school improvement?

The comprehensive discussion above on the 5 Ws and 1H (What, When, Why, Where, Which, and How), definitely gives a collective idea of why SSE is important for school improvement. Let’s talk about its importance.

With an aim of quality education through continuous improvement, school self-evaluation becomes a mechanism through which a school can review the effectiveness of its work. A well-planned and structured school self-evaluation process helps to create an appropriate climate that can support school communities to address both internal and external demands. A systematic and holistic approach to school management and organization is necessary if school improvement planning is to be considered one of the most significant tools to enhance efficiency, improve communication, nurture a culture of collegiality and increase participation among the different stakeholders. Performing a School Self-evaluation is a proactive way to articulate what a school has  accomplished, pinpoint the areas in which it might need to improve, and determine the steps it’ll take to do just that.

According to MacBeath (1999), SSE  can serve six different purposes:

  1. Politics management
  2. Accountability checks
  3. Professional development
  4. Organization development
  5. Improvement of teaching
  6. Enhancement of student learning

West & Hopkins (1997) emphasize that evaluation and improvement processes are two faces of the same constant monitoring activity. Self-evaluation becomes a sort of action research aimed at exploring the reflexive potential of schools. In fact, the implementation of school self-evaluation helps schools to develop an overview of how they are performing. The collection and analysis of evaluation data is useful to schools so as to gain evidence to design future improvement plans. SSE data thus obtained can be used not only to see how pupils and teachers in a particular school are doing, but also to develop an overall picture of how the schools in a specific area are performing.

Schools can develop their own SSE tool or template based on the agenda for evaluation. They can enable teachers too to participate in the same by focussing on aspects of the school that they identify as areas for quality development. Self-evaluation can be used to stimulate and motivate community involvement also. Parents, pupils and governors can provide useful feedback through SSE, and help to set the agenda for school change, accountability and effectiveness. If individual contexts can create supportive environments, school self-evaluation has an important role to play in supporting school development, and pupil and professional learning.

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