Quality has been a key concern for educational systems. Different conceptions and practices coexist. In many educational systems, school self-evaluation has become a key strategy, in connection with school’s external evaluation (OECD, 2013). School self-evaluation (SSE) can be defined as a systematic process in which well-considered participants describe and evaluate the functioning of the school for the purposes of making decisions and undertaking actions in the context of school development (Vanhoof & Van Petegem, 2010). As an evidence-based process, it involves gathering information from a range of sources and then making judgments to bring about improvements in students’ learning. Therefore, SSE builds on and develops the process of school development planning (Department of Education and Skills, 2016). SSE often relies on collecting data from teachers, students and other stakeholders as participants in the everyday life of the school with insightful information regarding it (Hooge, Burns & Wilkoszewski, 2012). Several existing evaluation frameworks (from governments or literature) that define steps, or a cycle, and areas or dimensions, and even standards, are commonly used to structure and guide the process of SSE.
In this paper, we present the conceptual framework devised in the DEAPS project. DEAPS is “Distributed Planning and Evaluation in Schools” (DEAPS), is a project that has partners in Ireland (Dublin City University), Belgium (University of Antwerp), Portugal (Polytechnic of Viseu), and Turkey (University of Ankara, Turkey). We propose an overview of DEAPS as a way of approaching, or strategy, of School Self-Evaluation that intersects participatory approaches to evaluation (Cousins & Chouinard, 2012; Springett & Wallerstein, 2008) and distributed leadership (Bennett, Wise, Woods, & Harvey, 2003; Fielding, 2011; Harris, 2004), as well as student and parent voice in education (LaRocque, Kleiman & Darling, 2011; Lodge, 2005; MacPhail, 2011; McAuley & Brattman, 2003; Wohlstetter & Mohrman, 1996, among others). The conceptual framework identifies and relates concepts pertaining to those three areas. As the DEAPS project covers an area that has been up till now under-researched, the development of a conceptual map was chosen as an approach to gather and connect the existing research.
The conceptual framework is based on an analysis of the literature surveys conducted by the partners in each country and internationally. The process reflects a qualitative data analysis as described by Miles, Huberman and Saldana (2014), which involved reading, coding, re-reading and drafting suggested over-arching themes and concepts that fitted within each theme. After a list of important themes was identified, we researched and synthesised literature both from the field of SSE, participatory evaluation, distributed leadership and stakeholder voice in education. The draft that emerged from this process was shared among partners and was discussed in the partners meeting in November 2018. The important features of each theme and possible connections between them and with other topics was refined.
In this paper we will discuss some of the more relevant features from the intersection between participatory evaluation and distributed leadership, namely knowledge and processes seen as an emergent property of a group or network of interacting individuals; openness of the boundaries of evaluation to include the perspectives and participation of different stakeholders (i.e. who has a part to play or a voice to be heard), and acknowledgement of different and varied expertise as distributed across the many (teachers, students, parents, etc.). The discussion will be based on core concepts from participatory evaluation and from distributed leadership and how they connect to research on stakeholder participation/voice in Education, in the context of School Self-Evaluation. Research on ways of analysing participation in evaluation and planning (Rudduck, 2006) and ways to analyse power and purpose of voice (Hart, 1992; Shier, 2001; Fielding, 2001, 2011, 2016) are mobilised for the discussion about conditions and strategies necessary for Distributed Evaluation and Planning. The paper also deals with implications of the DEAPS framework for School Self-Evaluation, particularly the need for the development of evaluation capacity throughout the organisation and for evaluation frameworks that account for and clarify how parents and students can be involved in the process, and suggest roles for parents and students in the evaluation process. The discussion of the conceptual framework with stakeholders in each partner country will allow to evaluate its comprehensiveness and relevance. Also, the analysis of the survey conducted in all four countries about the participation of parents and students in school self-evaluation will be important to confront the relationships that are sketched in the framework with the perspective of schools on the process of DEAPS.
Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P., & Harvey, J. (2003). Distributed Leadership: A Review of Literature. National College School Leadership. Cousins, J., & Chouinard, J. (2012). Participatory evaluation up close: An integration of research based knowledge. IAP. Department of Education and Skills. (2016). School Self-Evaluation Guidelines 2016-2020. Dublin: IDES. Fielding, M. (2001). Beyond the Rhetoric of Student Voice: new departures or new constraints in the transformation of 21st century schooling? FORUM, 43(2), 100–110. Fielding, M. (2011). Patterns of Partnership: Student Voice, Intergenerational Learning and Democratic Fellowship. In N. Mockler & J. Sachs (Eds.), Rethinking Educational Practice Through Reflexive Inquiry (pp. 61–75). Dordrecht: Springer. Fielding, M. (2016). Why and how schools might live democracy ‘as an inclusive human order.’ In S. Higgins & F. Coffield (Eds.), John Dewey’s Democracy and Education (pp. 114–130). London: UCL-IOE. Harris, A. (2004). Distributed Leadership and School Improvement: Leading or Misleading? Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 32(1), 11–24. Hart, R. (1992). Children's Participation, from Tokenism to Citizenship. UNICEF. Hooge, E. Burns, T., & Wilkoszewski, H. (2012). Looking Beyond the Numbers: Stakeholders and Multiple School Accountability. OECD. LaRocque, M., Kleiman, I., & Darling, S. (2011). Parental involvement: The missing link in school achievement. Preventing School Failure, 55(3), 115–122. Lodge, C. (2005). From hearing voices to engaging in dialogue: Problematising student participation in school improvement. Journal of Educational Change, 6(2), 125–146. MacPhail, A. (2011). Youth voices in physical education and sport: what are they telling us? In K. Armour (Ed.), Sport Pedagogy (pp. 105–116). Harrow: Prentice Hall. McAuley, K., & Brattman, M. (2003). Hearing young voices. Guidelines for consulting children and young people. Dublin: Open Your Eyes to Child Poverty Initiative. Miles, M., Huberman, A., & Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis. A Methods Sourcebook (3rd Ed.). London: Sage. OECD. (2013). Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment. OECD. Rudduck, J. (2006). The past, the papers and the project. Educational Review, 58(2), 131–143. Shier, H. (2001). Pathways to participation: openings, opportunities and obligations. Children & Society, (15), 107–117. Springett, J., & Wallerstein, N. (2008). Issues in Participatory Evaluation. In M. Minkler & N. Wallerstein (Eds.), Community-Based Participatory Research for Health (pp. 199–220). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Vanhoof, J., & Van Petegem, P. (2010). Evaluating the quality of self-evaluations: The (mis)match between internal and external meta-evaluation. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 36(1–2), 20–26.
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