A Review of the Education External Evaluation ServicesBrian Donnelly Education Review Office
A Review of the Education External Evaluation Services
Whaia te iti kahurangi
(Strive for the Ultimate)
Honourable Brian Donnelly
Minister Responsible for the
Education Review Office
Honourable Wyatt Creech
Minister of Education
Honourable Paul East
Minister of State Services
Tena ano koutou e noho mai
na i raro i te maru o te kawanatanga.
We are pleased to present you
with our Review of the Education External Evaluation System. Over the
last three months we have considered some 260 submissions, heard forty
oral presentations and held twenty four meetings to meet and talk with
principals, centre managers and boards of trustees members.
The contributions of those
who made submissions was invaluable in drawing our attention to the
perceptions of the practitioners and their varying responses to the
Education Review Office. It has been necessary to comment on and clarify
a number of misunderstandings about the nature of audit and review and
the processes adopted by the Education Review Office.
We have been fortunate in having
access to a body of literature on School Improvement and School Effectiveness
which led us to adopt the theme self-management, self-review, self
The recommendations presented
for your consideration are intended to clarify, refine and redirect
the focus of review. Retaining the audit function of the Education
Review Office was never in question. Our intention has been for
the system to deliver accountability while preserving autonomy in the
pursuit of excellence in education. We commend the recommendations
Margaret Austin Apryll Parata-Blane Wayne
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- This report on the
Review of New Zealand's Education External Evaluation System follows
the four Terms of Reference approved by Cabinet and conveyed by the
Minister responsible for the Education Review Office when he appointed
the Review Panel. It examines the methodology and effectiveness
of the Education Review Office's operation and considers the matters
drawn to its attention in relation to self-review, the significance
of external evaluations for schools and early childhood centres, how
the Education Review Office determines satisfactory performance in schools
and centres and how the Office communicates its findings.
- The Panel reports
wide support for the Education Review Office's role as the independent
external evaluator of New Zealand's pre-tertiary educational services.
The intention in this review is to focus attention specifically on the
enhancement of effective teaching and learning. In this regard,
the Panel notes the vital importance of the Education Review Office
communicating its evaluation philosophy and practices. The Panel
recognises that its recommendations will place short-term demands on
the professional leaders in schools and centres although it is convinced
that the ultimate gains will be worthwhile. There is an onus of
responsibility on all the key players - the Ministry of Education, the
Education Review Office, schools and centres - if New Zealand is to
achieve the quality of education outcomes the community deserves.
- The Panel was requested
to keep its recommendations fiscally neutral and it is confident that
this has been achieved, although there are some Budget implications
for the future for the Ministry of Education. The recommendations
are wide ranging and give effect to the request that the review maximise
the effectiveness of the Office.
- A number of major
issues have been identified. The Panel considered the legal framework
under which the Education Review Office operates as set out in the Education
Act (1989) and the Public Finance Act (1989). These are discussed
at length, were found to be adequate and no change is recommended.
Changes are recommended for parts of the Education Act (1989) to accommodate
changes to the charter requirements and powers of entry to Hostels.
The present exemption of Boards of Trustees from the provisions of s.41
(2) (f) of the Public Finance Act should remain but comparable accountability
will be met through a requirement for three yearly strategic plans with
annual statements of performance indicators in Board Charters.
- The guiding theme
adopted by the Panel is self-management, self-review and self-improvement.
Although the National Administration Guidelines specify that Boards
of Trustees are to maintain an on-going programme of self-review, the
Panel found that the effective implementation of self-review in schools
and centres is in its infancy at present and will require developmental
- The proposed recommendations
have three possible outcomes:
- eliminating the
misunderstanding about the nature and importance of accountability,
- enabling schools
and early childhood education centres to move through self-review to
- ensuring that the
requirements of the Public Finance Act can be met without the need to
engage in annual audit of Statements of Service Performance.
- The Charter, as
set out in s.61-64 of the Education Act, (1989), exists in schools and
centres but it has failed to emerge as a functional document guiding
their operation. Schools and centres should be required to insert
Three Year Strategic Plans into their Charters along with the preparation
of annual Statements of Performance Indicators. The Annual Report
of the Boards and centres would be made against the plan and the indicators.
The plan and indicators would also be used by the Education Review Office
for evaluation and audit purposes.
- The Panel welcomes
the intention of the Education Review Office to move to Accountability
Reviews. The Board Declaration should continue to be used for
compliance purposes, to allow the Education Review Office to focus on
the real business of educational effectiveness and outcomes. The
Education Review Office, however, must communicate to schools and centres
its intentions as it puts in place the accountability review process.
A national strategy in this regard must be implemented as a priority.
- The Education Review
Office is an evaluation and audit agent which values its independence
and integrity, a view that has widespread favour and support.
Therefore, it would be inappropriate for the Education Review Office
to have an advice and guidance function, or to be involved in enforcement.
The Panel has commented on the need for a hierarchy of advice and guidance
responses involving, for example, the Ministry of Education, the Advisory
Services including consultancies, an 0800 Help Desk, and the Internet.
- The National Evaluation
Reports are generally held in high regard, considered informative and
helpful in describing best practice and in drawing attention to
developmental issues which affect schools and centres. They stimulate
debate on issues that, while acknowledged by practitioners as being
important, are not necessarily the subject of ongoing discussion.
These reports must continue.
- Concern has been
expressed about Maori Education and the Education of Maori. The Panel
recommends that the Education Review Office give priority to these areas
in their assessment of both provision and effectiveness as well
as in producing a national evaluation report in 1998.
- Negative attitudes
to students with disabilities persist in some New Zealand schools. The
Panel has recommended that the Education Review Office focus on Special
Education in the 1998/99 year and produce an Evaluation Report on provision
- The reporting process
of the Education Review Office was considered at length. Boards
of Trustees, Principals and Teachers seem unaware that the oral report
is an exit exercise undertaken by reviewers after which the review team
analyses its findings and forms judgements on them. The Panel
recommends changes to the timing and content of these reports including
clarification of the dispute resolution procedure. Three months
should elapse between receipt of the unconfirmed report, its confirmation
and subsequent release to the media. This will allow for negotiation
on points of difference, preparation of an action plan by the Board
of Trustees and a management report on implementation to address the
recommendations in the report. These progressive actions would
be included in the confirmed report. The Panel recommends that
the report contain an introduction prepared by the school or centre
describing the context in which it operates, brief details of significant
achievements since the last review and issues on which the school or
centre is working.
- The Panel endorses
the policy of all confirmed reports being public documents which are
available to the media.
- The Panel views
with alarm the degree of misunderstanding and misinformation about the
nature and function of the Education Review Office which exists in the
field. Many submissions revealed a lack of knowledge of the ongoing
oversight and annual review of performance of government department
chief executives by the State Services Commission. The Ministry
of Education and the Education Review Office have a responsibility to
communicate and disseminate information and to ensure that it is understood.