Improving student outcomes through school improvement processes.
‘The capacity to navigate the current landscape – to learn together, to work from evidence, to animate and support learners, and to lead in faith and transformation – presents us with great opportunities and exhilarating challenges’ (Catholic Education Melbourne, Horizons of Hope: Vision and Context).
In fulfilling our mission to serve and lead, Catholic Education Melbourne works in partnership with our schools to strengthen their capacity to achieve the best educational outcomes for our students. The improvement of the whole school as a unit is considered to be one of the key levers for improving student outcomes. Since the development of the first School Improvement Framework in 2008, we now know much more about effective approaches to school improvement.
To this end, two groups were established during 2018 to help inform this renewal process – the ‘CEM School Improvement Working Party’ comprising broad representation of system leaders across Catholic Education Services (CES) and the ‘CEM Principal Reference Group’ comprising primary and secondary principals, including representatives of the Victorian Association of Catholic Primary School Principals (VACPSP) and the Principals Association of Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools (PAVCSS).
Backed by research and informed by genuine (and ongoing) consultative processes with key stakeholders, including principals, system leaders and school reviewers, planning commenced in relation to a new model of school review.
Fundamental to this review model was the renewal of the School Improvement Framework (SIF) Rubric.
During the course of 2018, colleagues from all CES teams worked collaboratively towards the development of a practical, research-based tool that would meet the contemporary needs of Catholic schools.
While the SIF Rubric has many uses within the regular and ongoing monitoring of school improvement and performance, this tool was specifically designed to assist schools in their preparation for the SIF model of school review.
The rubric supports schools through the self-reflection stage of review, and assists in framing the data sets and evidence that are submitted to the reviewer. Once completed, the rubric provides a key source of data and evidence for school reviewers to use during the review process – i.e. as a means to support evidence-based conversations about current performance, and as a way to help inform and establish clear improvement directions for the school.
Catholic Education Melbourne School Improvement Surveys (CEMSIS)
A significant part of school improvement is engaging with the school community and receiving feedback regarding the community’s views of the school. In 2018, Catholic Education Melbourne embarked on a project to enhance the way schools receive this information from their stakeholders, by piloting new school improvement surveys.
External research consultants Learning First were engaged to develop research-based and internationally valid surveys, tailored for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. In close consultation with principals across a broad range of schools, surveys, digital platforms and streamlined reports were produced and successfully piloted.
Feedback from schools using CEMSIS was positive and enthusiastic, and their input has continued to contribute towards final design and implementation decisions ahead of the system-wide launch planned for September 2019. Schools can look forward to simple processes with minimal impact on learning and teaching time, producing rich and informative data for planning school improvement.
The design and development of both the SIF Rubric and CEMSIS have laid the foundations for a contemporary, research and evidence-based approach to renewing the Catholic Education Melbourne School Improvement Framework as a whole. We can’t wait to see how schools experience the renewed tools, surveys and processes within the SIF as the renewal process continues into 2019.