How this resource is structured

This resource has five sections.

The first section, What matters most in schooling, will help you to understand the framework that underpins the school evaluation indicators. This framework integrates the key learner outcomes highlighted in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa with six domains identified by contemporary research and evaluation studies as being significant influences on school effectiveness and improvement.

Engaging in effective internal evaluation identifies three different but related purposes for and approaches to internal evaluation in schools: strategic, regular and emergent. Examples highlight particular features of the different approaches. This section will help you to engage in internal evaluation and understand what is needed to do it well. It highlights the actions you can take to develop the organisational conditions, capability and collective capacity to do and use internal evaluation for improvement purposes.

The third section, School improvement for equity and excellence, will help you to explore the relationship between internal evaluation and school improvement. It describes the kinds of shifts in practice that some of the case study schools were making as a result of internal evaluation. This section includes examples of improvement in two of the case study schools showing how they used evaluation and reasoning processes to inform their actions, with resulting shifts in practice and positive impacts on student outcomes.

The fourth section, Using the school evaluation indicators to support continuous improvement, will help you to better understand the relationship between internal and external evaluation and how aligning the two, with the evaluation indicators as a common framework, will support ongoing, sustained improvement in achievement and equity.

The final section, Integrating internal and external evaluation for improvement, reiterates the value to schools of harmonising their internal evaluation processes with ERO's external evaluations.

It supports schools to use their internal evaluation findings to engage with others in their school community and beyond. Domain six of the indicator framework, Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation, highlights how organisational conditions and capability influence engagement with external evaluation.


School evaluation can be either internal or external; in New Zealand it is both. ERO has mandated responsibility for external reviews while National Administration Guideline 2 explicitly requires every school to: 

  • develop a strategic plan which documents how it is giving effect to the National Education Guidelines through its policies, plans and programmes, including those for curriculum, National Standards, assessment, and staff professional development
  • maintain an ongoing programme of self review in relation to the above policies, plans and programmes, including evaluation of information on student achievement. 1

The intention is that all schools and their communities should be engaged in an ongoing, cyclical process of internal evaluation and inquiry that is directed at improving educational outcomes for all their students. Effective internal evaluation at a community/cluster/school level also contributes to improving outcomes for learners in the wider community and at a system level.

As used in this guide, the term 'internal evaluation' includes all the activities and processes that schools and their communities engage in to evaluate how effective they are in supporting success for all learners. These include schools' ongoing programme of self-review, planning and reporting processes, and other inquiry and evaluation activities that boards, leaders and teachers engage in for the purposes of accountability and improvement.

The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa both position teaching within an inquiry framework and highlight the importance of teachers and leaders having the expertise to inquire into their practice, evaluate the impact, and build knowledge about what works. 2

Schools and their communities need to be continuously evaluating the impact of their endeavours on learner outcomes. To do this, they need strong leadership and evaluation expertise. Their systems, processes and resources should support purposeful data gathering, collaborative inquiry and decision making and align closely with the school's vision, values, strategic direction, goals, and equity and excellence priorities.

Using a range of quality achievement data, boards of trustees, leaders and teachers in highly effective schools collaboratively monitor and evaluate the impact of improvement strategies. They are responsive to findings, making changes as necessary, and successful strategies are embedded into school practice so that all learners benefit.

Periodic external evaluation supports this cycle of continuous improvement by bringing an external lens to bear on achievement, the extent to which conditions support improvement, and next steps.

The primary purpose of school evaluation is to achieve equity and excellence in outcomes for all learners. 

Effective internal evaluation processes enable trustees, leaders, teachers, parents, families, whanau and the wider school community to better understand:

  • how individual learners and groups of learners are performing in relation to valued outcomes
  • how improvement actions 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 diverse learners and in what contexts
  • the extent to which the improvements achieved are good enough in terms of the school's vision, values, strategic direction, goals, and equity and excellence priorities.