Kerikeri High School - English department review

Kerikeri High School's approach to internal evaluation emphasises using data and evidence as a springboard for responsive action and developing 'inquiry habits of mind' rather than on the recording of internal evaluation activities. Internal evaluation is woven through school activities and is "a line of sight to student achievement and wellbeing.” The school has capability within the senior leadership team that enables the analysis and presentation of data and trends in specific areas of focus for improvement. Strong, open relationships with the board of trustees supports this approach.

Each department implements a cohesive model of review based on an annual cycle. This example is one of many in this school and shows how the English department implemented its evaluation process. The department has taken a long term view of improvement: "It takes five years before you begin to get where you are going.” However, they were monitoring to find the incremental gains. A core key focus of the department has been on developing a professional ethos of ongoing reflection. The department has developed a cohesive model of review based on an annual cycle. The cyclical review process is used to determine priorities, shape the curriculum and develop teaching practice.

Review has contributed to improved performance in literacy, particularly for boys. The structure provided by the review cycle is important for improvement, as is the opportunity for professional learning and development. Leaders lead by example and open the space for discourse.

 

Early in the year, individual teachers in the department analyse the performance of all students in detail. The analysis includes a general comment about what worked well from a teaching and learning perspective and areas for improvement.

Teachers in the English department identify specific areas in which their students have done well and do considerable soul searching about aspects that students have not succeeded in. The conversations focus on what the teachers and department could do better rather than on what the students didn’t do.

Noticing

What is going on here? For which students?

Is this good enough?

All department members set and reflect on their progress with subject and personal goals which are linked to professional learning and development opportunities. Observations of classroom practice in relation to the goals are carried out and followed by a debriefing. The debrief includes feedback from the observer and the identification of one or two specific areas to focus on.

Investigating

How good is our teaching?

How are we doing in relation to our goals?

The analysis and inquiry process along with the observations and goals contribute to the annual development plan. The head of department (HOD) uses the information from individual teachers to develop an overview of departmental performance and a standard-bystandard analysis is carried out. NCEA data is analysed and the findings are discussed with the principal. The value of these reviews has increased as teachers have become more confident and analytical.

Collaborative sense-making

What is the data telling us?

Is this good enough?

Reviews also focus on programmes for Years 9 and 10 students. Leaders consider which contexts and skills are working for students and identify resources needed. Year 10 programmes are checked to see that they are giving students learning opportunities for topics that many are likely to encounter again in the senior school.

The quality of the guidance provided for teachers is reviewed for standards where results are poor. Contradictions are discussed and where assessment judgements are subjective, some external moderation is sought to provide robust evidence. Solutions to issues are determined to make sure students have the time to access the resources they need and they can learn through contexts that will engage them.

The outcomes of the data reviews inform the annual report which in turn feeds into the departmental planning process.

  • There are fundamentals we have to apply. Timeliness is important when looking at the data, you need to look at it at a time where you can then be responsive and set up a development plan.Time to wrestle with dissonance is also important.
  • Having a critical friend gives you someone you can discussthings with.
  • We sometimes have to take risks and move out of our comfort zone – we should not be afraid of pushing the boundaries.

Prioritising to take action

What do we need to work on and why?

Students are closely monitored. Every student matters: “We look after all of them.” The HOD operates a traffic light system (green, amber, red) to ensure that students’ needs are responded to: “If something’s not working we will change it.” Staffing is organised to maximise students’ achievement. “Our most experienced teachers teach the internally assessed classes”.

Departmental meetings are student focused and organised to enable teachers to have professional conversations. Meetings focus on the development of resources and sharing best practice. To minimise administration at departmental meetings the HOD prepares a weekly newsletter for staff.

Comprehensive internal evaluation reports outline the issues and successes clearly. Sound reasons are provided for any additions or removal of courses or resources. These detailed records ensure that mistakes from the past won’t be repeated and teachers have a clear understanding of what works for students at Kerikeri High School.

Outcomes for students

The close analysis of and responsiveness to achievement data has successfully increased achievement. Improvements for boys and Māori students are significant.Percentage of students achieving NCEA (based on leavers’ data):

This is a small table line 1 is Boys line 2 is Maori. The figures are for line 1, 2005-47.8% and 2012-97%. For line 2 they are 2005-29% and for 2012-69%.

‘Success is still fragile – if you have a group that is failing in your school you focus on them and keep focusing on them.’

Monitoring and evaluating impact

Are we getting the results we wanted?

Do we need to adjust what we are doing?