education.vic.gov.au

School operations

School Review

9 Review day 1 — Validation Day

9.1 Making strategic choices about what to do next

A school review is like a formative assessment applied to the whole school. Just as formative assessment enables teachers to support students with the question, ‘what do I need to do next so I can improve?’, a review assists schools to develop strategic responses to the question, ‘what does our school need to do next so we can improve?’

The pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE) represents the school community’s collective view of what school goals were achieved, which were not, and what enabled or hindered success. The PRSE is the School Review Panel’s essential reference for Validation Day, enabling them to consider whether the analysis tells the story that evidence supports. It assists panel members – some of whom have detailed knowledge of the school, some of whom may have broad knowledge about how the system is performing, and some of whom may have expertise in school improvement more generally – to apply their areas of knowledge towards understanding a school’s context. On Validation Day, the Panel’s collective assessment confirms or changes the focus for the rest of the school review.

Validation matters because it informs the recommendations that are presented in the School Review Report.

Those recommendations shape the school’s strategic improvement directions that form the basis of its next School Strategic Plan. Every school strategic plan is a record of choices made about where effort, skill, resources and research are best applied over the strategic planning period. It is important to make choices that agree with the evidence available.

Validation Day enables the Panel to concentrate on those areas of school performance about which choices both can, and must, be made to secure further improvement.

For our students, formative assessment is a series of stepping stones that usually lead to summative assessment. Schools differ in that formative self- evaluation is ongoing – there is no end point for school improvement. Their response to achieving excellence on any measure is to ask, ‘how can we do better?’

High performing school systems are ‘constantly evaluating student performance and constructing interventions to assist individual students in order to prevent them from falling behind.’xv

'The major sources of evidence relate to diagnosis and formative assessment models and are centred on three major questions: Where are we going? How are we going? and Where to next? All analyses can be conducted at the individual as well as at the cohort, class, and school levels.’xiv

9.2 Validation Day outcomes and process

All school reviews begin with a Validation Day. On Validation Day the School Review Panel examines and tests the evidence and analysis presented in the school’s PRSE Report. The Panel’s objective on Validation Day is to ensure the accuracy of the information in the PRSE Report. Panel members come to an agreed position on the school’s performance against the goals and targets in the School Strategic Plan. This includes the school’s placement on the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) Continua with reference to the FISO dimensions, focusing on the six High-impact Improvement Initiatives.

The outcome of Validation Day is the Panel’s agreement about the school review’s duration, terms of reference (ToR) and methodology.

On Validation Day, the Panel:

  • discusses the school’s performance against the goals and targets in its previous School Strategic Plan, drawing on evidence such as the school’s PRSE Report, data sets including the School Performance Report and the Panorama Supplementary Report, classroom observations and focus groups, input from students and feedback from the School Improvement Team (SIT).
  • conducts classroom observations and focus groups, which reach deeply into the classroom to test and validate the school’s practices against the evidence recorded in the PRSE Report for the instructional core elements of:
    • student voice, agency and leadership
    • curriculum content
    • teaching practice.
  • collaboratively validates the school’s self- assessment of its position on the FISO Continua. This discussion involves the Panel collectively assessing the school’s proficiency levels against the FISO Continua, focusing on the six High-impact Improvement Initiatives, to come to agreement about where the school sits (emerging, evolving, embedding or excelling).
  • finalises the review’s length (number of reviewer days) through discussion and on-balance judgements, based on the Panel’s collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels against the FISO Continua.
  • develops ToR focus questions and methodology to ensure remaining review days are targeted and effective.

Validation Day follows the agenda developed by the principal, SEIL and reviewer at the Preparation Meeting – refer to section 8, Preparation Meeting.

9.3 Roles and responsibilities on Validation Day

On Validation Day, members of the School Review Panel play distinctive roles.

Panel members

All Panel members will:

  • collaboratively determine the focus and questions for classroom observations and focus groups
  • lead classroom observations and focus groups
  • share observations and findings with the Panel
  • ensure reliability of PRSE evidence based on the school’s data and practices
  • conduct collaborative validation of the school’s self-assessment against the Continua, as presented the PRSE Report
  • use on-balance judgement to determine the allocation of up to three additional reviewer days
  • develop ToR focus questions and methodology for the review

Challenge partners

Challenge partners will:

  • collaboratively determine the focus and questions for classroom observations and focus groups
  • lead classroom observations and focus groups
  • share observations and findings from an independent viewpoint with the core Panel members
  • provide respectful challenge of PRSE evidence based on the school’s data and practices
  • conduct collaborative validation of the school’s self-assessment against the Continua, as presented in the PRSE Report
  • contribute an independent viewpoint to on-balance judgement about number of reviewer days
  • develop ToR focus questions and methodology for the review

School community

Students, school improvement team and community members will:

  • take part in classroom observations and focus groups
  • provide feedback as required to core panel members on observations
  • assist core Panel members as required, drawing on their participation in the PRSE process
  • assist core Panel members as required
  • contribute to development of ToR focus questions and methodology as required (either through direct input or through feedback already provided to core Panel members)

9.4 Allocating additional review days

Validation Day discussions determine if any extra time is required for fieldwork to diagnose the school’s performance. Up to three additional days may be allocated, based on two considerations:

FISO highlight

FISO highlight
FISO highlight

Student achievement, engagement and wellbeinbg

Excellence in teaching and learning

  • Evidence-based high impact teaching strategies
  • Curriculum planning and assessment
  • Building practice excellence
  • Evaluating impact on learning
Download FISO highlight

1. Where does the Panel collectively assess the school’s proficiency level against the FISO priority of Excellence in Teaching and Learning?

If the Panel believes the school’s proficiency level is emerging or evolving, one extra day is added to the review.

FISO improvement model

FISO improvement model
FISO improvement model

Student achievement, engagement and wellbeinbg

Positive climate for learning

  • Empowering students and building school pride
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Setting expectations and promoting inclusion
  • Intellectual engagement and self awareness

Excellence in teaching and learning

  • Evidence-based high impact teaching strategies
  • Curriculum planning and assessment
  • Building practice excellence
  • Evaluating impact on learning

Community engagement in learning

  • Partners and carers as partners
  • Global citizenship
  • Networks with schools, services and agencies
  • Building communities

Professional leadership

  • Vision values and culture
  • Strategic resource
  • Networks with schools, services and agencies
  • Building communities
Download FISO improvement model

2. Does the Panel’s collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels against the Continua validate the school’s initial self-assessment?

The Panel collectively determines if its assessment of the school’s proficiency level against the FISO Continua, focusing on the six High-impact Improvement Initiatives, validates the school’s initial self-assessment.

Where the Panel collectively assesses the school’s proficiency level to be lower than the school’s self-assessment, and considers the school has rated its level of proficiency too highly, the Panel makes an on-balance judgement to allocate either one or two extra days.

The judgement considers:

  • the school’s circumstances
  • the difference between the Panel and the school’s assessment of proficiency
  • the number of dimensions with differing assessments

Below is a guide on how the Panel determines the allocation of up to two additional days.

If the Panel’s collective assessment of the school’s proficiency levels against the six High-impact Improvement Initiatives on the FISO Continua differs from the school’s original self-assessment:

  • Panel collectively assesses the school’s proficiency level lower on one initiative – no extra time is required. Use base number of days only.
  • Panel collectively assesses the school’s proficiency level lower on two to three initiatives – one extra day is added to base number of review days allocated.
  • Panel collectively assesses the school’s proficiency level lower on four or more initiatives – two extra days are added to base number of review days allocated.

If the review is already scheduled for three or four days, it is unlikely the scheduled length of the review will be extended. Instead, additional days will be allocated as additional reviewer time – that is, the current reviewer will arrange for an additional reviewer from their company to attend on one or more of the scheduled review days.

9.5 Finalising review terms of reference focus questions and methodology

The ToR focus questions and methodology are integral to the school review process. Following the Panel’s testing and validation of the school’s performance against its School Strategic Plan goals and targets and against the FISO Continua, the Panel develops focus questions to guide the review process. The focus questions capture those areas of the school’s practice and performance that require a more detailed look.

The methodology outlines how the review will be undertaken. It determines how the focus questions will be tested through fieldwork activities such as classroom observations, surveys and focus groups. Each review’s focus questions and methodology will be unique to that school’s context. Together, the focus questions and methodology ensure a thorough examination of the school’s practices and processes contribute to building deeper knowledge of the school’s performance outcomes.

Focus questions

The ToR are co-constructed by the Panel on Validation Day. They reflect and define specific areas of the school’s practice and performance that require more detailed investigation and analysis. The focus questions guide the review to ensure it:

  • examines key aspects of the school’s performance identified from the PRSE Report, performance data and the Panel’s observations and learnings from Validation Day
  • provides in-depth exploration of the school’s strategic direction and actions over the four years of the School Strategic Plan, and identifies enablers and barriers that have influenced achievement of goals and targets
  • provides quality advice and support to the school to guide development of the new School Strategic Plan through recommending appropriate high-quality goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS).

The Panel works collaboratively to construct the focus questions, ensuring there is a clear and logical evidence-based rationale for their inclusion in the review. The focus questions have an open ‘inquiry question’ focus so that their exploration leads to a detailed analysis and diagnosis – for example, ‘To what extent...?’, ‘How does...?’ or ‘How can the school...?’

Focus questions are most effective when they are SMART:

  • Specific (not multi-layered and overly complex)
  • Measurable (evidence/data available)
  • Achievable (can be undertaken through the review process)
  • Results-focused (to assist in moving forward)
  • Time-bound (will meet the review timelines).

Two to three focus questions are investigated for reviews of three days or less. Three to four focus questions are investigated for reviews of four days or more.

Methodology

The methodology outlines how the review will be undertaken and how the focus questions will be tested. It should include:

  • timelines for each review component, activity descriptions and required resources
  • a detailed plan for the review days and the purpose of fieldwork activities, defining what will be explored, who will be involved, and a timeline for the activities
  • identify the person responsible for managing each part of the review
  • how the school community, including students, staff and the SIT, parents and school council, will be engaged

The methodology clearly indicates the range of data and other information to be analysed, and the extent of school community consultation. Opportunities to engage with school community members, including students, staff and parents, are central to developing the methodology for every school review. Guiding notes and examples are included in the School Review Report templateExternal Link , which includes the terms of reference and methodology.

Guidance chapter on review day 1 : Validation Day

Reviewed 12 June 2020

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