Educators are quite constantly involved with processes relating to testing, measurement and evaluation. This is done in different ways by people directly and indirectly connected with schools. While most factors of measurement relate to academics, there are other things to be considered when evaluating schools.
Over time priorities and processes have changed. These days within the NT a detailed visit by senior colleagues including a group of the principal’s peers and senior management staff is the way appraisals are undertaken. The process lasts several days. Examination includes conversations with some school staff members.
The Northern Territory Education Department has been concerned about the performance of its schools since taking over responsibility for education in 1978. Various models have been followed.
One of the very best was called the “Internal/external School Appraisal Model”. This involved members of the school staff and members of community working in groups to analyse the various aspects of school function. Teaching performance, staff relationships, student welfare, school appearance, communications and all other factors were examined. Each panel included staff and community members. A facilitator was appointed for each group.
Groups had the ability to glean information from a number of options. Included what questionnaires, interviews, and of course the self-awareness of that particular aspect of school function built within the group. Toward the end of the process each group presented in turn to the whole school staff and also members of community who cared to attend those sessions.
From the report grew recommendations for future consideration. Each group also indicated things that were being done well and should be continued.
After presenting, each group report and recommendations to the forum of staff and community. Some revisions were then made and a priority put on the recommendations.
When all groups had presented and the final report from the “internal process” developed, this then went to an external panel which considered the report. This panel had the opportunity to order the recommendations as a whole.
This was a very elongated process. However it enabled all staff and those with a keen steak and interest in the school to have input. Importantly the report was owned by school staff and community members.
I applied this model at Nhulunbuy Primary School when first becoming principal. Again, it was used it Karama Primary School in 1987. Of all the methodologies used over time to help centre school action in the right directions this approach was by far and away the most effective.
When people within an organisation own what they do including developing the context of futures direction the whole process is validated by ownership.
Although it may never happen I would certainly recommend a return to the past when it comes to appraising a school and its place within the community.