6 Pre-review self-evaluation
6.1 Continuous self-evaluation
The process of self-evaluation is a continuous and regular part of a school’s work throughout the year. It empowers schools to plan for and deliver improvement.
High quality self-evaluation makes an essential contribution to improving quality in schools and raising the attainment and achievement of learners.
Formal self-evaluation happens on a six-monthly basis as schools monitor and evaluate their progress against the goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS) in their Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) and their progression against the six Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) High-impact Improvement Initiatives.
Effective schools also monitor their progress in an ongoing manner, using a wide range of measures to capture their progress and proactively adopt interventions or change practices as needed.
Self-evaluation is the initial, critical step in the cyclical process that brings about change and improvement in a school, as encapsulated by the FISO improvement cycle.
Three key questions sit at the heart of effective self-evaluation:
How well are we doing?
How do we know?
How can we improve things further?
- Evaluate and diagnose
- Prioritise and set goals
- Develop and plan
- Implement and monitor
6.2 Pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE)
Every four years, schools undertake a PRSE process in the term before their review. This synthesises their ongoing and formal six-monthly evaluations from the previous four years and engages the whole school community in a reflective analysis of the school’s performance.
As part of the PRSE, schools use their data and analysis from the previous four years, to determine their achievements against the School Strategic Plan goals and targets.
They conduct an analysis of their performance and identify the enablers and barriers to success. Quantitative and qualitative data and evidence is used to support their analysis and assessment.
Schools also determine their progress and level of proficiency against all 16 dimensions of the FISO Continua Improvement, providing evidence to support their selection of proficiency level.
‘If we want whole systems to succeed with every child – which is indeed the challenge of the 21st century – then we need collective capacity: and collective capacity involves teachers in each school and between schools engaging in serious conversation of what good teaching looks like and how it is achieved.
For that conversation to be successful, evidence is required; and if evidence is to go beyond the anecdotal, then good data are essential.’viii
Actions that schools may undertake to inform their PRSE and to gather evidence to support their reflection include:
- analysis of performance information from tests or assessments, including school-based and system-level assessments (such as NAPLAN, English Online Interview (EOI), Maths Online Interview (MOI), OnDemand and moderated common assessment tasks)
- analysis of school data, including the school’s Panorama supplementary report and school performance group report, student Attitudes to School Survey (ATOSS) data, Parent Opinion Survey data and School Staff Survey data
- observations of lessons by peers and school leaders
- evaluating the quality of learners’ written and practical work
- evaluating the quality of curriculum planning and assessment, recording, moderation practices and reporting
- sampling the views of learners, staff, parent/carers and other stakeholders
- auditing practice against policies and procedures, for example to ensure compliance with minimum standards for school registration, including the Child Safe Standards, and Occupational Health and Safety regulations
- benchmarking against practices by other schools, including ‘like’ or similar schools
The PRSE is a collaborative effort that forms a collective view about where the school places itself against the FISO Continua on each FISO dimension.
By conducting a thorough and reflective PRSE, schools are supported to clarify and systematically identify the enablers that led to sustained successful outcomes, and the barriers that prevented success.
6.3 Roles and responsibilities
The principal plans and leads the PRSE process, supported by the School Improvement Team (SIT). The objective is to ensure the PRSE Report captures evidence from a wide range of sources, including data and feedback from the whole school community.
The school’s senior education improvement leader (SEIL) supports the school to undertake the PRSE when required. SEILs can assist schools to plan the PRSE process, and may provide input and challenge to the analysis of data.
Education improvement leaders (EILs) and regional data coaches, with their rich understanding of school data, may also be called upon to support schools in their analysis of data and collection of evidence. The SEIL endorses the PRSE Report on behalf of the regional director.
The whole school community, including students and parents/carers, contribute to the PRSE process. The school council oversees the PRSE process, providing input and challenge. The school council president is also responsible for endorsing the final PRSE Report. Roles and responsibilities related to the PRSE are summarised in section 6.4 below.
Student achievement, engagement and wellbeing
Community engagement in learning
- Partners and carers as partners
- Global citizenship
- Networks with schools, services and agencies
- Building communities
6.4 Engaging the school community
When conducting the PRSE, it is critical that all members of the school community, including students, are provided with opportunities to contribute, be made aware of the findings, and the actions that will follow. Self-evaluation should not be an activity conducted solely by the principal or a small group, such as the leadership team or SIT, working in isolation.
Feedback from consultations with the whole school community is a critical piece of the jigsaw. A well supported, transparent PRSE should engage and empower the whole school community to contribute to a shared understanding of how well the school has performed over the life of the School Strategic Plan.
Opportunities for face-to-face consultations may include:
- inviting the community to take part in forums to discuss the school’s performance and its directions, making interpreters available if needed
- holding small group discussions with students and parents/carers to present performance data and seek responses
- forming working groups that include community representatives to undertake a particular evaluation task
- maintaining a ‘discussion whiteboard’, either in physical or digital form, highlighting key points or data raised during the PRSE, for members of the school to provide ideas or thoughts
- holding an open afternoon or family night, facilitated by students, to engage with their parents and community and gather ideas and feedback in an informal setting
The principal will:
- plan the PRSE methodology and timeline
- brief the school and its community about the PRSE process
- organise consultations with the school council and school community
- gather and analyse data
- prepare outcomes of the PRSE process for reporting and endorsement
- keep everyone informed about the outcomes of the PRSE
- prepare the PRSE Report for council endorsement
- at least four weeks before the review, forward the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) minimum standards self-assessment sheets and required documentation to the reviewer
- at least four weeks before the review, forward the PRSE Report to the reviewer, SEIL, school council president and challenge partners
The SIT will:
- support the principal to plan the PRSE methodology and timeline as requested
- take part in working group meetings
- facilitate or take part in community forums as requested
- support the principal to collate, analyse and evaluate data from a range of sources, including previous AIP self-evaluation outcomes
- support the principal to prepare the PRSE Report in the Strategic Planning Online Tool (SPOT) as requested
- support the principal to communicate the outcomes of the PRSE to the school community
- support the principal to gather required documentation supporting the VRQA minimum standards self-assessment as requested
The school council will typically:
- review and contribute to the plan and timeline for the PRSE
- take part in in the school’s PRSE planning activities
- take part in in working groups
- take part in in consultations with the school community
- provide support and challenge where necessary
- support the PRSE process
- endorse the PRSE Report (signed by school council president)
- ensure minimum standards meet compliance requirements
The SEIL will:
- support the school to plan for the PRSE
- provide support where necessary
- provide support to analyse and interpret data, and challenge where necessary
- provide input into and feedback on the PRSE outcomes
- endorse the PRSE Report on behalf of the regional director
- support the school to ensure school policies are in place and up to date
The school community, including students can:
- find out about the PRSE through the school’s communication channels
- consider volunteering to assist in the PRSE
- contribute to surveys
- take part in student and parent meetings and focus groups
- engage with the data and findings
- review and provide feedback as necessary
- provide support where necessary
- engage with the outcomes of the PRSE through the school newsletter and other communications
6.5 Collecting the evidence
Collecting and analysing evidence from a range of sources is important for understanding a school’s improvement journey and performance status and trends. Multiple sources of evidence enable a school to make better decisions about how to improve its performance as part of its ongoing cycle of self- evaluation. It is critical to use a range of sources to understand and validate the many factors that have contributed to the school’s performance.
The PRSE is informed by evidence sources that include:
- information, evidence and analysis contained in the self-evaluation sections of the school’s three previous AIPs
- extensive engagement with the whole school community, including the principal and school staff, students, parents/carers, and other community members
- in-depth analysis of various data sets, facilitated by the SIT and supported by the SEIL and EIL or regional data coaches if required, to explore:
- student academic progress, for example through analysis of NAPLAN, OnDemand, EOI, MOI and benchmarking data, moderated common assessment tasks and school assessed coursework (SACs)
- wellbeing and attitudinal data, such as student ATOSS data, tracking of individual learning plan data, wellbeing surveys, analysis of behavioural records (for example behaviour incident records, notes from restorative practice mediation meetings) and absence data.
‘We can refine conclusions by checking tentative conclusions against our experience, professional wisdom, and our “insider knowledge” of what is happening in our setting.
We can check our conclusions with the people who gave us the data – for example, our students. And we can actively search our data for examples that are at odds with the conclusions we would like to draw... All of these methods help reduce bias and improve the validity of the conclusions we draw.’ix
Review the School Strategic Plan
As part of the school’s PRSE, school improvement and performance are reviewed against the goals and targets from the School Strategic Plan. Schools have a range of evidence to draw upon from the self-evaluation sections of their previous AIPs to support their assessment of progress and achievement against the School Strategic Plan.
Through available data and evidence, schools determine the level to which they have achieved their school strategic plan goals and targets and identify the barriers that prevented, or enablers that supported, their achievement.
This reflection should focus on what the school did or did not do effectively, and what strategies they may consider employing next time, to bring about improved outcomes.
Focus on the instructional core
The collection and analysis of evidence should focus on and describe the school’s practices concerning the instructional core, comprising:
- student voice, agency and leadership
- curriculum content
- teaching practice
Research identifies these instructional core domains are central to improving student performance and outcomes. The three domains correspond with three of the eight essential elements that underpin FISO. More information is available in section 4 and in the (login required).
Access compliance with VRQA minimum standards for school registration
The minimum standards check assesses the school’s level of compliance with the minimum standards for school registration. To assist the reviewer to undertake this check, the school completes the:
Both these self-assessments, along with the required supporting documentation, must be provided electronically to the reviewer by a mutually agreed date, at least four weeks before the review.
6.6 Completing the PRSE Report
The PRSE Report is completed using the SPOT in the term before the school’s review. Online training modules and page guides are available in SPOT to support schools to enter the findings of their PRSE into SPOT. A includes tips to assist schools to complete the Report.
6.7 Endorsing the PRSE Report
The principal, school council president and SEIL endorse the PRSE Report. These Panel members need to be satisfied that:
- the Report provides a valid assessment of the school’s practice and performance
- all relevant facts and opinions were assessed in the self-evaluation process
- the conclusions flow reasonably and logically from the information and data gathered
At least four weeks before the school review, the principal forwards the endorsed PRSE Report to the core members of the Panel (the SEIL, school council president and reviewer) and challenge partners.
6.8 How the PRSE Report is used in school review
The PRSE prepares the school for review by developing its understanding of its performance against a range of measures.
The PRSE is the springboard for every school review. PRSE findings, and the evidence underpinning them, are included in the school’s PRSE Report. It is a vital reference for Review Panel members and is provided to them at least four weeks before the review’s commencement. The PRSE Report presents an overview of the school’s context, practices and performance.
On Validation Day, the Review Panel undertakes classroom observations, evaluates performance against the previous School Strategic Plan, and probes evidence and findings presented in the PRSE Report.
The Panel determines the review’s length and focus after testing and validating that evidence, particularly in the instructional core domains: student voice, agency and leadership; curriculum content; and teaching practice.
The appendices to these guidelines provide links to information about school performance reports and other data that are used when developing the PRSE.
Reviewed 14 June 2020