IMPROVING SCHOOL
GOVERNANCE

2.1 Evaluate and diagnose

Why is this topic important?

Self-evaluation supports the ‘evaluate and diagnose’ phase of the Improvement Cycle process.

School self-evaluation is an opportunity for the school to reflect on how it is tracking against the goals and targets in its four-year SSP and AIP. This helps the school to identify what is working well, what needs to continue and which areas of the school's work may need to be improved or further developed. It informs decisions relating to priority setting, initiatives, strategies and actions for improvement.

Self-evaluation involves schools collating data from a diverse range of sources to inform action for improving student outcomes.

The whole school community, including students, parents/carers and staff, reflect on the observed outcomes, acknowledge and celebrate achievements; and identify effective strategies and areas for improvement during the next planning period.

The community can do this by contributing to discussion about:

  • how well the school is meeting the community’s expectations

  • where the school could improve its performance

  • what the school’s priorities should be going forward.

There are two types of school self-evaluations:

Annual self-evaluation – an annual school self-evaluation against the FISO Continua of Practice is conducted to determine the school’s progress against the FISO dimensions. Each year, schools evaluate themselves against the six dimensions as FISO high-impact Improvement Initiatives, as well as any additional dimensions implemented by the school in that year. 

Pre-review self-evaluation – is a rigorous process undertaken every four-years in the term prior to the school’s review. The pre-review self-evaluation evaluates the school’s improvement efforts by drawing together evidence of the school’s performance against the previous SSP along with feedback from consultations with the school community. The pre-review self-evaluation should engage and empower the school community to contribute to a shared understanding of how well the school has performed over the life of its strategic plan.

The pre-review self-evaluation includes:

  • an assessment of the school’s performance against the goals and targets in its SSP

  • the key enablers that led to successful outcomes and the barriers that prevented success

  • a collective school view on where the school places itself against the FISO Continua of School Improvement for each FISO dimension

  • a description and evidence of the school’s practices in the three areas of student voice; agency and leadership, curriculum content and teacher practice; knowledge and skills

  • a school self-assessment against the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) Minimum Standards for School Registration, including Child Safe Standards.

After the pre-review self-evaluation is completed:

  • it is endorsed by the principal, school council and Senior Education Improvement Leader (SEIL). From Term 2, 2018 this endorsement will occur through the Strategic Planning Online Tool (SPOT)

  • it is provided to core members of the School Review Panel and the challenge partners at least four weeks before the review

  • the VRQA Minimum Standards documentation is sent electronically to the reviewer at least four weeks before the review.

The school participates in a school review, which looks at the school’s performance and informs strategies for improvement.

The pre-review self-evaluation and the school review inform the development of the school’s new four-year Strategic Plan, which is then operationalised through the AIPs.

On completing this unit, school councillors should be able to:

  • understand the evidence related to school improvement

  • consider the pre-review self-evaluation report for endorsement

  • understand the school review process, including the school council president’s role and the way the school community engages in self-evaluation.

The pre-review self-evaluation

The pre-review self-evaluation is completed in the term prior to the school’s review. The pre-review self-evaluation report is provided to core members of the School Review Panel and challenge partners at least four weeks before the review.

The principal and School Improvement Team are responsible for leading the pre-review self-evaluation, which evaluates the school’s improvement efforts by drawing together the evidence of the school’s performance against specific measures. These include the School Strategic Plan, feedback from community consultations, a collective school view on where the school places itself against the FISO Continua of School Improvement for each FISO dimension, evidence of the school’s practices in the three areas of student voice and the school’s self-assessment against the VRQA Minimum Standards.

The principal, school council and SEIL endorse the pre-review self-evaluation report and the principal ensures the outcomes are communicated to the community. From Term 2, 2018 this endorsement will occur through SPOT.

To provide feedback, councillors should reflect on the process to ensure that evidence from a wide range of sources has been considered to provide an accurate and agreed picture of the school’s context and improvement. They should be satisfied that the process aligns with the Department’s pre-review self-evaluation guidelines and that the views of the community are reflected.

The following table shows how the principal and staff, school councillors, and the school community (including parents, students and other interested people) would typically be involved in the pre-review self-evaluation process.

 

The principal, in consultation with the School Improvement Team will…

Councillors will typically …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

The school
community might …

  • plan the pre-review self-evaluation methodology and timeline
  • review and contribute to the plan and timeline for the pre-review self-evaluation
  • support the school with planning for pre-review self-evaluation
 
  • brief the school and its community about the pre-review self-evaluation process
     
  • organise consultations with the council and school community
  • participate in working groups

  • participate in consultations with the school community
  • provide support where necessary
  • contribute to surveys

  • participate in parent meetings and focus groups
  • gather and analyse data
  • provide support and challenge where necessary
  • provide support to analyse and interpret data, and challenge where necessary
  • engage with the data and findings
  • prepare the outcomes of the self-evaluation process for reporting and endorsement

  • keep everyone informed about the outcomes of the pre-review self-evaluation
  • support the pre-review self-evaluation process
  • provide input into and feedback on the outcomes of the self-evaluation
 
  • prepare the pre-review self-evaluation report for council endorsement
  • endorse the pre-review self-evaluation report
  • endorse pre-review self-evaluation report
 
  • at least four weeks before the review, the principal forwards the VRQA check self-assessment sheets and required documentation to the reviewer

  • at least four weeks before the review, the principal forwards the pre-review self-evaluation report to the reviewer, SEIL and challenge partners
   
  • engage with the outcomes of the pre-review self-evaluation via the school newsletter or other communication

Endorsing the self-evaluation

The principal presents the pre-review self-evaluation report to council for endorsement. Councillors should be satisfied that:

  • the report provides a valid explanation of the school’s practice and performance

  • the VRQA check self-assessment includes evidence of the school’s compliance with the VRQA’s minimum standards for school registration

  • all relevant facts and opinions were assessed in the process of developing the report

  • the conclusions flow reasonably and logically from the information and data gathered.

Once the pre-review self-evaluation report is endorsed, the principal briefs staff on the outcomes of the process and school council determines how best to communicate the findings of the self-evaluation to the community.

The principal forwards the endorsed pre-review self-evaluation report to the SEIL, president, reviewer and challenge partners at least two weeks before the school review.

Establishing evidence of school performance

Information (evidence) from a range of sources is important in understanding a school’s improvement and performance. The pre-review self-evaluation report, school improvement and performance is reviewed against the School Strategic Plan and targets in the four FISO priority areas - Excellence in teaching and learning, Professional leadership, Positive climate for learning, and Community engagement in learning.

Achievement

Achievement refers to both the absolute levels of learning attainment and growth in student learning that schools strive to support.

While recognising that literacy and numeracy are essential foundations for students’ success, achievement outcomes encompass a broader view of learning, spanning the full range of curriculum domains, as well as students’ co-curricular achievements.

Student learning outcomes relate to what students know and can do. Schools develop and implement curriculum and report on achievement of student learning outcomes using data relating to:

National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

Every year, all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are assessed using national tests in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

Victorian Curriculum 

The curriculum for Victorian schools is set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). The Victorian Curriculum Foundation–10 (F–10) sets out what every student should learn during their first 11 years of schooling. The curriculum is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for life-long learning, social development and active and informed citizenship. The Victorian Curriculum F–10 incorporates the Australian Curriculum and reflects Victorian priorities and standards.

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 sets out a single, coherent and comprehensive set of content descriptions and associated achievement standards to enable teachers to plan, monitor, assess and report on the learning achievement of every student.

Student learning outcomes for students supported under the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)

Students covered by PSD funding have their learning outcomes assessed against the goals of individual learning plans.

English and Mathematics online interviews

Along with teachers’ judgements in English, English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Mathematics, school achievement in literacy and numeracy outcomes is also measured in the English online interview, the Mathematics online interview and the Fractions and Decimals online interview.

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework

This builds continuity between the first years of schooling and the learning and development that precede these years. This Framework describes the key learning and development outcomes for children from birth to eight.

Senior secondary certificates and programs

Student learning outcomes in the senior secondary years are defined as attainment in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and Vocational Education and Training (VET in schools), including school-based new apprenticeships and traineeships. Information on this area is provided through school performance data available on the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS) and through the VCE data service.

Other information

At the school level, schools also collect information on student learning using a range of school developed and commercially produced assessment strategies and instruments.

Engagement

Engagement refers to the extent to which students feel connected to and engaged in their learning and with the broader school community. Engagement spans students’ motivation to learn, as well as their active involvement in learning. Engagement also refers to students’ engagement as they make critical transitions through school and beyond into further education and work.

Measures of student engagement include student attendance data, students’ ratings of their connectedness to school and motivation to learn (Student Attitudes to School Survey for students in Years 5 to 12), teachers' assessments of students’ motivation (School Staff Survey) and parents’ perceptions of the school climate (Parent Opinion Survey). Information collected at the school level can also be used.

The Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance provide advice for schools about improving student engagement, attendance and positive behaviours.

Wellbeing

Students’ health, safety and wellbeing are essential to learning and development. An inclusive, safe, orderly and stimulating environment for learning is critical to achieving and sustaining students’ positive learning experiences.

Measures of student wellbeing include student safety, morale and respect (Student Attitudes to School Survey). Information collected at the school level can also be used.

Additional outcomes data

Other outcomes data available for children that may be relevant for primary schools include:

  • the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) – This is a population measure that provides information on how children are faring and the success of early childhood services in supporting children and families prior to a child’s entry to school. The AEDC is a summary indicator of children’s progress relative to others based on areas of early childhood development.

  • the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS) - This reports on the safety, health, learning, development and wellbeing of children and young people in Victoria. This data is reported against the 150 VCAMS indicators and provides a sound basis to support school strategic planning.

Data analysis

The principal and School Improvement Team will use the data to:

  • examine trends, to see how performance has changed over time

  • consider the achievements of specific groups of students to assess their performance

  • analyse outcomes for individuals and groups of students as they move from one year level to the next

  • evaluate differences in outcomes between different skill areas within English and Mathematics

  • make comparisons with state averages or state-wide information about schools with similar student backgrounds.

An annual summary of each school’s performance is provided (included as part of each school’s Annual Report to the School Community) and is available on-line on the VRQA State Register.

This information summarises school performance in relation to Key Improvement Measures. School performance data is made available to schools via Panorama interactive dashboards, reports and the School Information Portal. These resources also compare a school’s performance with similar Victorian government schools.

A more detailed approach to school review and improvement is made available to the school principal through the school performance report. These reports utilise two dimensions of performance results: current performance and change in performance over time, and aggregates each school’s results across six performance domains and assigns schools to an overall performance group. This approach forges links between evidence, school review, and strategic and annual planning.

Multiple sources of information will enable a school to make better decisions about how to improve its performance. It is important not to draw conclusions from one set of data, but to try to use a range of sources to understand the various factors that are contributing to an aspect of the school’s performance.

Understandably, many councillors will not have experience in analysing this kind of data. The principal will explain to councillors the relevance of each set of data to school performance and will help councillors make sense of some specialised data, such as NAPLAN results.

The key points to remember with data analysis are that:

  • absolute scores are useful for specifying targets and measuring increase or decrease in scores

  • relative scores are useful for comparing one school’s performance with schools with students from a similar background.

Councillors also need to be aware of the importance of maintaining confidentiality in respect of the data they may examine during the school self-evaluation process.

Engaging the school community

When considering how best to consult with its community, a school might consider what form of consultation has worked well before, the resources available to the school for consultation and the geographic spread and diversity of the community.

Opportunities for face-to-face consultations include:

  • inviting the community to participate in forums to discuss the school’s performance and its directions, ensuring interpreters are available if necessary

  • holding small group discussions with parents/guardians, where performance data is presented and responses sought

  • forming working groups to undertake a particular evaluation task.

Other considerations

Small group discussions might also be an option if the school community is geographically dispersed, or has significant numbers of people who speak languages other than English. In these cases, the principal working with school councillors could:

  • convene small group discussions in places, at times and in languages that suit participants

  • talk to community organisations (such as cultural groups or local aboriginal education consultative groups in the case of Koorie families).

Other opportunities for consultation include:

  • surveys of parents/guardians, asking for comments and opinions

  • providing information about the self-evaluation in the school newsletter with an invitation to readers to comment

  • suggestion boxes where people can leave their comments.

School review

School reviews make an evidence-based contribution to the school’s development of its new SSP and efforts to improve student outcomes.

A school review evaluates the school’s performance against its previous SSP and investigates particular areas of focus in order to inform the development of the school’s next strategic plan and determine the improvement goals for the next four-year cycle.

In 2018, a new school review and improvement approach is being implemented for all Victorian government schools. This approach includes a new model of school review to create a self-sustaining cycle of continuous improvement, where all schools are supported by the system on a needs basis, to strengthen improved student outcomes.

Throughout their review, schools have the support of a School Review Panel, including core members: an independent accredited reviewer, the principal, the SEIL and president, as well as challenge partners and school community members, including students, school community members and the school’s School Improvement Team. This collaborative approach allows for a deeper analysis of data and performance to help the school shape their plan for ongoing improvement.

The president is a core member of the School Review Panel and a key decision-maker in the review, contributing to the analysis of the school’s performance against the previous SSP as well as planning directions for the next strategic plan. 

Schools for review in 2018 will:

  • undertake a pre-review self-evaluation process with engagement from the whole school community

  • complete the pre-review self-evaluation report in the term before the review

  • provide the report and other school data to the School Review Panel

  • hold a preparation and planning meeting, where the reviewer visits the school

  • participate in the review (with duration and scope determined on the first day of the review: the Validation Day)

  • receive the school review report, with directions for the new School Strategic Plan (goal, targets etc.)

  • develop the new School Strategic Plan.

The following table outlines how councillors, principal and leadership team, SEIL and school reviewer would typically be involved in the review process.

The principal will …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

School councillors will …

The reviewer will …

Preparation and planning
  • provide the required documentation for the VRQA registration requirements check (policy documents etc.) to the reviewer electronically at least four weeks before the review

  • provide the school pre-review self-evaluation report to the core members of the School Review Panel and the challenge partners at least two weeks before the review

  • engage with and analyse the school’s pre-review self-evaluation report and other data
  • engage with and analyse the school’s pre-review self-evaluation report  and other data

  • be aware of the required documentation for the VRQA check (policy documents etc.)

  • engage with and analyse the school’s pre-review self-evaluation report and other data

  • engage with and analyse the school’s pre-review self-evaluation report and other data

  • undertake a desktop audit of the school’s documentation for the VRQA registration requirements check

Validation day (first day of review)
  • attend the first day of the review (the Validation Day) as a core member of the School Review Panel

  • participate in the classroom observations/focus groups on Validation Day

  • support the participation of staff, students and community members in focus groups, interviews etc. as required

  • contribute to the development of focus questions and methodology for the review

  • attend the first day of the review (the Validation Day) as a core member of the School Review Panel

  • participate in the classroom observations/ focus groups on Validation Day

  • support the participation of staff, students and community members in focus groups, interviews etc. as required

  • contribute to the development of focus questions and methodology for the review
  • attend the first day of the review (the Validation Day) as a core member of the School Review Panel

  • participate in the classroom observations/ focus groups on Validation Day

  • support the participation of staff, students and community members in focus groups, interviews etc. as required

  • contribute to the development of focus questions and methodology for the review
  • attend the first day of the review (the Validation Day) as a core member of the School Review Panel

  • participate in the classroom observations/ focus groups on Validation Day

  • support the participation of staff, students and community members in focus groups, interviews etc. as required

  • contribute to the development of focus questions and methodology for the review
  • support review activities as necessary
  • support review activities as necessary
  • participate in focus groups, interviews etc. as required
  • undertake fieldwork as per the methodology to investigate the focus questions (e.g. through focus groups, interviews with staff, students and community members etc.)

  • observe processes around the VRQA registration requirements in practice
Panel time (final day of review)
  • contribute to the collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies for the next SSP
  • contribute to the collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies for the next SSP
  • contribute to the collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies for the next SSP
  • report back to the School Review Panel on findings and observations from the fieldwork

  • facilitate the core members of the School Review Panel to collaboratively develop directions for the next SSP, including goals, targets and key improvement strategies
School review report
  • check the accuracy of the draft review report
  • quality-assure the draft review report

  • endorse the review report
  • discuss the review report at the school’s council
  • prepare and submit a review report
  • set-up review meetings with staff and school council where the review findings can be presented
  • may co-deliver review findings to meetings of staff and school council
  • participate in the presentation of the review findings at a school council meeting
  • in some circumstances present review findings to meetings of staff and school council
  • provide feedback to the Department on the quality of the review process through an online survey

Annual reporting

Each year, schools prepare an Annual Report to the School Community. Through the Annual Report, schools communicate: the success of their improvement initiatives, the effectiveness of resource allocation and their future directions for improvement. The Annual Report is a legislative and regulatory requirement under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and the National Education Agreement 2008.

The school council president signs and endorses the Annual Report using SPOT. The following table shows how councillors, the principal and leadership team and the SEIL would typically be involved in the annual reporting process.

The principal will …

The Senior Education Improvement Leader will …

Councillors will typically …

  • populate the Annual Report

  • table the completed Annual Report at a school council meeting for endorsement
  • provide quality assurance of the Annual Report where required
  • review and comment on the draft Annual Report

  • upload the draft Annual Report in SPOT for review and approval by the Department

  • make changes to the draft report at the Department’s request
 
  • review and comment on changes made to the draft plan
  • sign and endorse the approved Annual Report to attest that:

  • all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registered

  • the school has met the VRQA minimum standards for registration (except where any exemptions apply)

  • all expenses and commitments of funds have supported educational outcomes and operational needs

  • the school complies with the Child Safe Standards as prescribed in Ministerial Order 870

     

 
  • sign and endorse the approved Annual Report to attest that:

  • all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registered

  • the school has met the VRQA minimum standards for registration (except where any exemptions apply)

  • all expenses and commitments of funds have supported educational outcomes and operational needs.

  • the school complies with the Child Safe Standards as prescribed in Ministerial Order 870

  • organise a public meeting to present the endorsed Annual Report to the school community

  • ensure that each member of the school community is provided with access to the report
  • provide support as required
  • attend and present to the public meeting (as appropriate)

Structure of the annual report

The Annual Report contains:

  • Cover page

  • About Our School statement

  • Performance Summary

  • Financial Performance and Position statement

Schools download their Annual Report template from the School Performance Reporting website.

Approving the annual report

The Annual Report provides the community with information about the school’s performance in implementing their improvement strategies and how the school’s resources have been used.

Councillors need to be aware that:

  • an Annual Report is required to be developed and published each year, including the year in which the school is conducting its school review and developing its new SSP

  • the Annual Report is tabled at a school council meeting for ratification and must be submitted to the Department for approval by 30 April of the next year

  • Presidents are required to sign and endorse the approved report to attest that all teachers are Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registered, the school is compliant with the VRQA registration requirements and Child Safe Standards and all expenses and commitments of funds have been to support educational outcomes and operational needs. From 2018, this function will be performed in SPOT

  • the council must verify that the financial summary and commentary featured in the report are accurate and satisfy government requirements

  • the council’s endorsement of the Annual Report must be recorded in the school council minutes

  • school councils are required by law to hold a public meeting each year to present the report

  • the school’s Annual Report must be published on the VRQA State Register of Victorian Schools. This process is managed by the Department once submitted by the school.

Resources and links

Title

Link

Framework for Improving Student Outcomes

edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edrms/project/fiso/SitePages/Home.aspx

Anual Reporting – internal eduGate site

edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edrms/project/fiso/SitePages/AnnualReporting.aspx

School Performance Information

www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/management/improvement/Pages/performreports.aspx
Strategic Planning Online Tool (SPOT) apps.edustar.vic.edu.au/spot/
Panorama School Reports

edugate.eduweb.vic.gov.au/ourorg/SRG/RAD/Pages/Panorama.aspx

 

Learning Activity