Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SISI 2.0? The English Inspection Standards

Kentucky's scholastic audits reflect our Standards and Indicators for School Improvement, a lengthy document with nine standards, each with multiple indicators--and each indicator with multiple descriptors.

By comparison, England's school inspections produce a much shorter list of judgments, focusing on the major issues of student outcomes, quality of "provision" (meaning instruction and other services), and leadership and management. Starting with this September's inspections, here's a complete list of the areas to be addressed:
1. Pupils’ achievement and the extent to which they enjoy their learning (taking into account pupils’ attainment; the quality of pupils’ learning and their progress; and the quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their progress)
2. The extent to which pupils feel safe
3. Pupils’ behaviour
4. The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles
5. The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community
6. The extent to which pupils develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being (taking into account pupils’ attendance)
7. The extent of pupils’ spiritual,* moral,* social and cultural development

1. The quality of teaching (taking into account the use of assessment to support learning)
2. The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils’ needs, including, where relevant, through partnerships
3. The effectiveness of care, guidance and support

1. The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambition and driving improvement (taking into account the effectiveness of the leadership and management of teaching and learning)
2. The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and supporting the school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities met
3. The effectiveness of the school’s engagement with parents
4. The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being
5. The effectiveness with which the school promotes equal opportunity and tackles discrimination
6. The effectiveness of safeguarding procedures
7. The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion
8. The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for money
Each report ends final judgments on the school's "outcomes for individuals and groups of students" and "the school's capacity for sustained improvement," followed by an overall judgment of "Overall effectiveness: how good is the school?"

Bluntly, I think the English list is stronger than our SISI:
  • They address student performance as well as school practices, looking at key character traits and capacities for adult success as well as healthy habits and good behavior. Kentucky has some similar goals on paper, but we've had no system of monitoring and accountability for them.
  • In actual inspection reports, it's clear that the look at achievement goes beyond test scores, looking at things like arts and the writing process. These inspections seem to already do much of what we want from our new program reviews in those areas.
  • Parent engagement and student safety are unmissable in the English version. They're included in SISI, but they're hidden like a needle in a haystack of other issues.
  • Teaching quality similarly is completely central to the section on provision.
  • "Capacity for sustained improvement" as a summary judgment captures all the issues of school leadership, culture, professional development, and planning, and it the needed information for decisions about outside intervention if the school is too weak.
I'd happily see Kentucky aim for something this complete and concise as our guide to future state studies of individual schools.

For a more complete overview of the English approach, including how the inspections are conducted, check out The Framework for School Inspections here.

* England has an established church and an un-American understanding of how schools and faith can relate. In practice, though, much of what they mean is what we mean by "character education."

1 comment:

  1. The British model reflects "tactical" planning as opposed to the tired model of "strategic" planning. A tactical planning model would have a much higher rate of success in a short-term political environment. This needs to be shared with the new Commissioner of Education.


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