09 SES 05 C, External School Evaluations and School Self-evaluations
In recent decades, self-evaluation has become a key mechanism for school improvement. Countries that have introduced school self-evaluation (SSE) generally provide a range of support measures in order to encourage school engagement in the process (European Commission 2015, OECD 2013). Such measures include: “specialist training in internal evaluation, use of external evaluation frameworks, indicators enabling schools to compare with other schools, specific guidelines and manuals, online forums, as well as advice from external specialists, and financial support.” (European Commission 2015 p.11). Despite the provision of such supports, many countries continue to experience capacity and implementation issues(OECD 2009,OECD 2013, Ryan, Chandler, & Samuels 2007, Schildkamp & Visscher 2009, Vanhoof, Van Petegem, and De Maeyer 2009.
This paper explores the provision of external specialist support for schools engaging in SSE, in an attempt to address implementation issues. The European Commission (2015) identify 23 countries or jurisdictions where external specialists provide support for SSE and describe external specialists as “persons not directly involved in the activities of the school carrying out internal evaluation and who support the evaluation process in various possible ways. Resource persons have expertise in the field of education or evaluation and can be from a variety of professional backgrounds (academic experts working in the areas relevant to the evaluation of schools, private consultants, teacher trainers, experts from public sector institutions” (p 54).
A model of external support was developed by the Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection based in Dublin City University (DCU), Institute of Education. The model is based on previous research carried out by O’Brien (2011) which was redeveloped and updated for application in post-primary schools and involves the provision of external support in the form of a critical facilitator (O’Brien, McNamara & O’Hara 2014, 2015). This model of support was tested in five post-primary schools in Ireland over a one- year period. The research explores the previous levels of engagement by the schools in self-evaluation and then documents their engagement in the DCU facilitated process. The outputs of the SSE processes in each school are outlined as are the views of school management and participating teachers in relation to the model of support being tested.
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. 2015. Assuring Quality in Education: Policies and Approaches to School Evaluation in Europe. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Department of Education and Skills. (2012). School self-evaluation guidelines for post-primary schools. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. McNamara, G., & O’Hara, J. (2012). From looking at our schools (LAOS) to whole school evaluation management, leadership and learning (WSE-MLL): the evolution of inspection in Irish schools over the past decade. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 24, 79–97. OECD. (2013). Synergies for better learning: an international perspective on evaluation and assessment. Paris: OECD. O’Brien, S., McNamara, G. & O’Hara, J., 2015. Supporting the consistent implementation of self-evaluation in Irish post-primary schools. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, pp.1–17. O’Brien, S., McNamara, G., & O’Hara, J. (2014). Critical facilitators: External supports for self-evaluation and improvement in schools. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 43, 169–177. Ryan, K. E., Chandler, M., & Samuels, M. (2007). What should school based evaluation look like? Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33, 197–212. Schildkamp, K., & Visscher, A. (2009). Factors influencing the utilisation of a school self-evaluation instrument. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 35, 150–159. Vanhoof, J., Van Petegem, P., & De Maeyer, S. (2009). Attitudes towards school self-evaluation. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 35, 21–28.
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