Integrating internal and external evaluation for improvement

School evaluation has both internal and external components, and the two should be seen as working together.

New Zealand has ... gone furtherest among countries internationally towards a collaborative school evaluation model, incorporating at the same time a sequential process ... [the] approach is collaborative in the sense that both parties attempt to work together to agree on a rounded picture of the school in which there is mutual recognition of its strengths and consensus on areas for development. 1

Schools set in place their own evaluation processes and, as part of an annual reporting cycle, provide regular accounts of student achievement in relation to goals and targets, along with planned improvement actions.

Then periodically ERO conducts an external evaluation. The school's student achievement information and associated internal evaluation forms the starting point for ERO's external evaluation and for engagement with other education agencies and professionals.

School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success expresses the intent of ERO's external evaluations in this way:

"Participation in periodic external evaluation supports the school's cycle of continuous improvement through providing an external lens on the school's improvement journey: its performance in relation to excellence and equity of outcomes for every student, the extent to which school conditions support ongoing improvement; and next steps for development. (ERO, 2015, p6)

The indicators are designed to make it easier for internal and external evaluations to talk to each other:

"The indicators provide a common language for the interaction and dialogue between a school and ERO about the development since the last review, the current state and future direction. (ERO, 2015, p6)

Domain 6 of the indicators framework, Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation is the engine that drives improvement. The indicators in this domain highlight the relationship between organisational conditions and the capacity to do and use evaluation for improvement, and how these influence engagement with external evaluation.

In effective schools internal evaluation processes are systematic, coherent and connected at all levels of the school. This alignment ensures that leaders, teachers and boards of trustees are able to purposefully engage with external evaluation, using it as an opportunity to review, validate and support their own improvement actions.

Getting the most out of external evaluation

In thinking about and preparing for your ERO external evaluation the questions below provide a useful framework for developing an account of your school's development since the last evaluation, where that development is currently at, and areas for future focus.

Outcomes for learners

What are the outcomes that are valued for all learners in this school community, as learners in Aotearoa New Zealand, and as global citizens?

How well are all our learners achieving in relation to those outcomes?

To what extent is every student in our school a successful "confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learner"?

How well are we identifying and accelerating the achievement of those learners at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes?

How do we know? What sources of evidence tell us about our performance and effectiveness?

School conditions supporting ongoing improvement in learner outcomes

Since our last ERO evaluation:

What areas of development have we focused on to improve learner outcomes?

How have we enabled the school community to participate in/contribute to the development focus?

What actions have we taken? How effective have those actions been in promoting the improvements needed?

What have been the successes and challenges? Which domains of school activity have been most significant in supporting our improvement journey (stewardship; leadership; responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn; educationally powerful connections and relationships; professional capability and collective capacity; evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement) What has been the impact?

What are our continuing and/or next big areas for development and improvement?

This will provide an overview of your internal evaluation findings to present to ERO. ERO uses your school's learner outcome information and internal evaluation account to work with you to design the external evaluation for your school context.

During the evaluation process the ERO team will discuss the emerging evaluation findings with you and involve you in the interpretation of the evidence gathered to develop a shared understanding of the quality and effectiveness of education provision in your school and next steps.

The evaluation insights provided by ERO as an outcome of the external evaluation process should support every child to succeed as a lifelong learner.

School evaluation for equity and excellence