Evaluation is the engine that drives improvement and innovation. Effective evaluation is critical in achieving equity and excellence in student outcomes.
Evaluation is a form of disciplined inquiry concerned with the determination of value.5
Evaluation involves making a judgement about the quality, effectiveness or value of a policy, programme or practice in terms of its contribution to the desired outcomes. The evaluation process involves systematic consideration of the questions: What is so? Why is it so? So what? Now what? 6
In a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako, using evaluation for improvement will facilitate collaborative action through enabling the community to better understand:
> how individual learners and groups of learners are performing in relation to valued outcomes
> how improvement actions taken have impacted on learner outcomes and what difference is being made
> what needs to be changed and what further action needs to be taken
> the patterns and trends in outcomes over time
> what kinds of practices are likely to make the most difference for learners and in what contexts
> the extent to which the improvements being achieved are good enough in terms of the community’s collective vision and priority goals and targets.7
Evaluation and organisational learning are closely linked.8 The quality of evaluation leadership and collective depth of evaluative knowledge and expertise will determine the extent to which a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako can collaboratively carry out and use evaluation for improvement. Doing and using evaluation effectively requires asking good questions, gathering fit-for-purpose data and information, making sense of, and thinking deeply about that data and information in order to develop the understanding that enables good decision-making.9
Evaluation methods and evaluative thinking provide the tools for systematically gathering and interpreting evidence that can be used to provide information about progress and provide feedback loops for refinement, adjustment, abandonment, extension and new learning.10
Building the capacity of a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako to engage in strong evaluative reasoning and evaluation processes is critical in enabling the community to achieve its collective vision and priority goals and targets for equity and excellence
8 Cousins, B., Goh, S., Elliott, C., & Bourgeois, I. (2014). Framing the capacity to do and use evaluation. In Cousins, J.B. & Bourgeois, I. (Eds.). Organisational capacity to do and use evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 4, 7-23.
9 Earl, L. (2014). Effective school review: considerations in the framing, definition, identification and selection of indicators of education quality and their potential use in evaluation in the school setting. Background paper prepared for the Education Review Office’s Evaluation Indicators for School Reviews.
10 Earl, L., & Timperley, H. (2015). Evaluative thinking for successful educational innovation. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 122, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jrxtk1jtdwf-en