School Excellence self-assessment process

1. Reflect on the statement of excellence

What does the Statement of Excellence for the relevant element mean in our school?

2. Think about your school's practice

What are the practices in our school?

  • What existing practices in our school align with this element?
  • Why are these practices important? What is the impact?
  • What processes in our school plan align with this element?

Reflect on what your school is currently doing.

It is important to ‘suspend judgement’. Put aside any preconceived ideas or expectations you may have and be open to what your analysis may show, even if this is unexpected or disappointing. If you do not do this, you may fall into the trap of looking for evidence that supports a judgment you have already made, rather than making a judgement based on your evidence.

3. Identify your data

  • Where will we find the evidence of impact? What data will we use?
  • What existing school-based and system data would assist us in making the judgements?
  • How will we analyse our data?
  • How have we planned to evaluate the strategies in the school plan?

Consider what existing data would assist you in conducting your self-assessment.

Different kinds of data can reveal different things about the same policy, program or project so it is important to use both qualitative and quantitative data and data from different sources. In a school context, this includes both school-level data (i.e. internal surveys or classroom observations) and system-level data (i.e. NAPLAN or the HSC).

Qualitative and quantitative methods both have advantages and limitations, so you should consider which is most appropriate for what it is you are trying to understand.

  • Quantitative data is useful for examining causal impacts (e.g. is my program having the desired impact?) But does not help answer questions such as ‘how?’ and ‘why?’.
  • Qualitative data is very useful for answering detailed questions about how things could be improved, or the reasons why things are working or not working. For more information about the benefits and drawbacks of both types of data visit the Guidelines for using data page.

If you are unsure where to start, visit the sources of evidence page for some suggested data sources.

4. Analyse your data

  • When we analyse our data, what does it tell us?
  • When we consider the data as a whole – what does it tell us?
  • What trends are emerging?
  • What practices are being demonstrated?
  • What impact do we see?

Analyse your data to determine what it is telling you. When doing this, you should be open-minded and prepared for unexpected or disappointing results. You should also look at all of your data together to get a balanced, holistic view. For help in analysing data, visit guidelines for using data.

In analysing this data, you should consider questions such as:

  • Is what we are doing working? Is it having the desired impact?
  • What have we learned from this? Could we do anything differently?
  • What should we do next?

Be realistic about what your results are telling you about your school, rather than singling out specific items because they are positive. You should acknowledge the things you are doing well, and the things that may need to be improved.

For example, a school may be doing very well in reading but not numeracy, or may have a group of high performers who are doing well but another group of students who are below the national minimum standard.

Different pieces of evidence may tell you different things. If this is the case, you should make an assessment of what all the measures, on-balance, are telling you. For example, if your value-added and other student performance measures are saying one thing, but one measure in SMART is saying another, then you should consider disregarding the outlier measure.

It is also important to identify any gaps in your evidence. That is, based on your current evidence, are there any questions you cannot answer? Keep this in mind when you consider your plans for the future (outlined in step 5).

5. Make a judgement

  • What can we reasonably conclude about our school?
  • Using the descriptors from the School Excellence Framework – which statements can our evidence support?
  • Would our conclusion be supported by others?

Once you have identified and analysed your evidence, it is now time to make an ‘on-balance’ judgement about where your school currently sits against the School Excellence Framework.

To make this judgement, you should reflect on what you found in step 4. That is, based on your evidence, do you think your school’s practices under the relevant element are best described as Delivering, Sustaining and Growing or Excelling? Or does it look like your school is currently Working Towards Delivering?

Refer back to the statement of excellence and the individual descriptors for the element of the Framework to help you make this judgement.

It is important to use your evidence to inform your judgement, rather than making a judgement and then looking for evidence to justify this. To help with this, consider where someone external to the school would place you on the Framework if you gave them your evidence from step 3.

6. Plan for the future

  • What do we need to do next or differently?
  • Are there any gaps in our evidence?
  • How can we capture our evidence in the future?
  • What strategies are required to improve our practice in this area? What else could we do? What could we do instead?

Think about what you need to do next.

This might include considering ways to improve your school’s current practices in this area. Is there anything additional you could do? Or anything you could change?

This might also include identifying gaps in your school’s current evidence and thinking about how you can capture this evidence in future. For example, if you can see that one of your school’s programs is making a difference but you cannot measure its impact in a robust way, then you should consider ways to address this. Or, if you are implementing a new program, include data collection in the program’s implementation plan. This will allow you to build your evidence-base as you go so that you can evaluate the program down the track.

7. Share your evidence

  • How do we communicate our evidence?
  • How do we share this with our staff?
  • How do we synthesise this for External Validation?
  • To what extent do we share this with our school community?

Consider how your school should communicate the evidence gathered for different purposes and audiences.

For example, you may wish to consider how to share evidence with school staff, and what information to share with your school community. If you are participating in external validation, you will also need to consider how to synthesise and present the most relevant evidence. See the evidence sets page (requires login) for examples of how some schools have presented their evidence for external validation.

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