At Social Ventures Australia, we have the privilege and pleasure of working with outstanding school leaders in The Connection. These leaders recently convened for one of our quarterly Thought Leadership Gatherings to discuss “Leadership, and the opportunity of measurement, evaluation and impact”. Throughout the discussions and debates that emerged over the two days, the evolving approaches of The Connection schools to capture and use monitoring and evaluation to inform continuous school improvement was apparent.
The case for monitoring and evaluation in schools is clear. It enables school leaders and teachers to adjust school improvement strategies to ensure optimal accessibility, equity and efficiency.
It also informs the adoption and institutionalization of successful programs and practices at the school and classroom levels. For example, Hume Central Secondary College have developed tracking tools to monitor student exit and suspension data; allowing them to design appropriate interventions and know when they are effective.
Conducting monitoring and evaluation in schools however, is also uniquely challenging.
Schools in The Connection are developing their own robust and appropriate frameworks and tools, such as the design of capabilities aligned assessment tools at Rooty Hill High School and the design of a context specific teacher standards framework at Dandenong North Primary School. Schools are also leveraging strategic partnerships to add capacity to their monitoring evaluation work, such as the partnership between Toronto High School and the University of Sydney to evaluate a Collaborative Peer Learning Program for teachers, and the partnership between Merrylands East Public School and the Queensland University of Technology to evaluate student engagement. Indeed, each school in The Connection provides critical insights into how schools conduct and use evaluations in the most meaningful and important manner.
It’s a challenging task. Schools are complex systems focused on the immense responsibility of developing children and adolescents in all facets.
Determining a clear logic for a program or practice is difficult, as students are exposed to a range of influences all day long, all of which combine to shape an outcome. It is therefore difficult to isolate a program or practice from the system, and to clearly attribute inputs to outcomes.
That each of the schools mentioned have developed such strong measurement and evaluation programs is very promising. The Connection seeks to scale and spread these approaches, to ensure that strong and robust monitoring and evaluation approaches can be embedded across the system. By identifying what school leaders are using that is enabling them to access rich, meaningful information, and what they are doing to enable their teachers to understand, analyse and act on this information we can, together, support schools to continually improve learning outcomes for all students.