Evaluate

Key action

Evaluate school procedures, programs, practices, and analyse student growth and achievement data to inform school planning and policy implementation.

Planning, monitoring and evaluation are critical to ensure that education programs are effective in meeting the learning needs of students.

To assist with monitoring, evaluation, and analysis, schools should use internal and external data sources. This information should indicate where, when and how they address high potential and gifted student participation, growth, achievement and engagement across different domains of potential.

Schools should reflect on data and evidence and report on student progress and achievement.

Evaluate procedures, programs and practices

When reviewing school procedures, programs and practices for high potential and gifted students, schools may wish to consider the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of our procedures, programs or practices?
  • What are the objectives of our procedures, programs or practices?
  • What information does our collected and analysed data and evidence provide on participation, growth, achievement and engagement across domains of potential?
  • In what ways does supporting research and evidence guide our decision-making?
  • To what extent do our procedures enable ongoing monitoring and evaluation of quality programs and practices?
  • How effectively does professional learning support our teachers to deliver these programs and practices?
  • How objective, valid and reliable are our assessment and identification procedures?
  • How are resources equitably distributed to support the needs of high potential and gifted students?

School leaders may choose to address one or more of these questions in their school improvement priorities to enable a sharper focus on the school’s impact on the outcomes for high potential and gifted students.

Alignment to the School Excellence Framework

During annual self-assessment against the School Excellence Framework, themes most relevant to implementing the policy can be found in this Policy alignment with SEF checklist.

Implementation of the policy is mandatory from 2021 aligning it with the new school planning cycle, however schools can begin implementation earlier if they choose. Schools do not need to create their own school 'policy' for high potential and gifted students.

In planning for high potential and gifted education schools may consider a range of related policies and resources including:

Evaluate student progress

Analysing student achievement helps schools identify areas of strength and target areas for growth and improvement in their programs, practices and procedures. It can also help schools identify students who may benefit from extension and additional challenge. Schools should consider data relating to student:

  • growth and achievement
  • engagement and wellbeing.

Wherever possible, schools should consider if individual student groups have differing patterns or levels of growth, achievement, engagement and wellbeing. Uneven achievement across student groups can be addressed through targeted school practices and programs.

Student growth and achievement

Student growth and achievement data are important indicators of student progress and program effectiveness. Used with formative assessment, this data can reveal the learning needs and trajectory of students across all domains.

Monitoring helps students avoid 'falling through the cracks' as their underachievement will be noticed before it becomes a long-term pattern.

Many gifted and highly gifted students progress faster than is typical for same-age students. While high achievement may be an indicator that high potential and gifted students are achieving at a level matching their ability, assessments that lack rigour can make it difficult to draw conclusions about outcomes for gifted and highly gifted students.

These can include:

  • exposing young children to a varied range of opportunities across areas of talent to develop interests at an early age
  • providing access to enrichment opportunities particularly in the student’s area of strength and interest
  • providing opportunities to pursue special interests through independent projects which are authentic or based on real world problems and guided by mentors
  • providing flexibility in the learning process whilst continuing to maintain high expectations
  • providing opportunities for the student to engage in tasks which require higher order thinking
  • focusing on small ‘chunks’ within a lesson or task, so students have opportunities to succeed
  • creating a culture where effort is recognised, promoted and rewarded
  • a consistent classroom culture where creative and intellectual risk taking is valued and celebrated
  • developing a culture where ‘mistakes’ are seen as a natural part of the learning process and this is modelled by parents and teachers
  • explicitly modelling resilience and self-reflection skills
  • cultivating positive language during setbacks so students see them as an opportunity for growth
  • proactive and productive communication between the school and the parents/carers
  • developing a sense of pride, self-confidence and personal achievement in areas of strength or interest
  • promoting a classroom culture of personal best
  • working with the Learning Support Team or similar on developing self-regulation, organisational and effective learning skills.

Underachievement

Comparing assessed student ability against actual performance over time helps teachers identify students who may be underachieving. Underachievement is defined as a significant discrepancy between potential and performance. Estimates of the percentage of significantly underachieving high potential and gifted students range from 10% (Wills & Munro, 2001) to 40% (Seeley, 1993), with some individual studies showing levels of underachievement as high as 57% (Peterson & Colangelo, 1996).

The nature of underachievement is complex. It crosses all social and cultural boundaries. High potential and gifted students who are underachieving pose a significant challenge for educators. Levels of underachievement can be more pronounced among identified students from disadvantaged groups. This can further exacerbate the ‘excellence gaps’ that already exist in high level achievement outcomes for students from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Underachievement may be a high potential and gifted student’s response to lack of challenge, relevance and complexity, or teaching strategies. It may also relate to a fear of social isolation or peer rejection if the student feels that they stand out because of their advanced achievement. Students may feel left out or isolated. It is possible for them to camouflage their ability by intentionally or subconsciously dumbing down, or to self-sabotage to seek peer acceptance, or hide their true potential.

Disengagement can lead to underachievement. A supportive learning environment that celebrates excellence and personal growth helps to sustain engagement and foster wellbeing across all domains. Teachers and schools can help prevent underachievement by monitoring student learning progress and achievement levels. This may involve undertaking a deep analysis of both informal and formal assessment, and school performance data.

To evaluate student engagement and wellbeing, schools can review and analyse:

  • student, teacher and parent engagement surveys, such as Tell Them From Me
  • information from student, parent, teacher and community focus groups and discussions
  • student wellbeing or behavioural referrals, such as for Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL)
  • wellbeing, behaviour and attendance data.

Environmental factors and catalysts that influence underachievement are varied and diverse. It is important that teachers and schools understand that local contexts play a significant role in relation to both achievement and underachievement.

For high potential and gifted students, some of the causes of underachievement can include:

  • student disengagement with learning
  • low expectations
  • equity issues in accessing optimal learning environments
  • disability, and difficulty in sourcing appropriate adjustments
  • lack of sufficient challenge, relevance and complexity
  • inappropriate pedagogical strategies
  • fear of social isolation
  • sporadic school attendance
  • non-identification, particularly for disadvantaged students due to limited professional development.

Talent development capitalises on motivation and interest. Without addressing these, talent cannot be cultivated, underachievement may occur, and potential will not be realised.

Strategies for addressing underachievement can include:

  • monitoring student progress and achievement as informed by assessment data and other evidence of student learning
  • identifying the student’s areas of strength and talent
  • isolating causal factors or catalysts of underachievement
  • developing a connection and caring relationship with the student
  • having high expectations of the student within an environment that is respectful, calm, supportive and positive
  • emphasising intrinsic motivational strategies.
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