ERO looked for schools that had been identified during their regular education review as conducting effective school evaluation. These schools had all received a four-to-five year return time in their most recent education review, and in many cases were on a second four-to-five year return, indicating that ERO was very confident in their capacity and capability to undertake internal evaluation for sustainable improvement. This yielded a list of 48 schools. ERO then conducted a desktop analysis of these schools to make a final selection. This selection was based on evidence of improvement in student achievement, engagement and retention statistics, and good internal evaluation practice identified in previous ERO National Evaluation Topics (NETs).
Thirteen schools were selected, based on these criteria (see Appendix 1 for the sample). ERO conducted site visits to all thirteen schools in Terms 3 and 4, 2014, to meet with school leaders, and occasionally others, such as teachers, trustees and students. The purpose of the meetings was to allow the schools to tell their own stories - 'narratives' - of using internal evaluation for improvement. These narratives were analysed thematically to identify common attributes of effective internal evaluation at these high performing and improving schools. ERO also gathered information about the general features of internal evaluation at these schools, seeking to answer the following broad questions: