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Internal evaluation

Ahakoa he iti kete, he iti nā te aroha.

It is the thought that counts.

 

Sections on this page with video explanations by Sandra Collins, Manager Methodology, Education Review Office:

What is internal evaluation?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Sandra Collins head and shoulders facing the camera

    Sandra Collins, Methodology Manager, Education Review Office: So if we begin by thinking about evaluation. Evaluation is something we do in our everyday lives. We evaluate the coffee we just purchased – was it strong enough, was it too milky, was it too hot? We are wired to evaluate, making judgements about all sorts of things in our everyday lives. So, in the context of our early childhood service, we can use evaluation to make judgements about our practice. So how good, how well, how effective or to what extent are we achieving our goals, shifts in practice to improve quality?

    When we add the word internal to evaluation it means we are doing it to ourselves. When we talk about external evaluation, that is evaluation that is done by someone outside our service, for example like the Education Review Office.

    Transcript

Internal evaluation is an integral part of each early learning setting’s curriculum planning and implementation practices. Internal evaluation assists leaders and kaiako to evaluate the quality of their curriculum whāriki and plan for future action.

The Education Review Office (ERO) defines internal evaluation as the use of robust processes to systematically inquire into and evaluate the effectiveness of policies, programmes, and practices.

Internal evaluation findings are used to:

  • inform decision-making
  • improve the quality of practice
  • promote equitable outcomes for all children.

It is about finding out what is and is not working, and for whom. The next step is determining what changes are needed to improve quality. Effective internal evaluation is always driven by the motivation to improve.

Effective evaluation requires us to think deeply about the data and information we gather and what it means in terms of priorities for action.

By questioning ourselves, we keep the focus on our learners, particularly those for whom current practice is not working. Aspiring for excellence and equitable outcomes is always front and centre. 

Why do we do it?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Sandra Collins head and shoulders facing the camera

    Sandra Collins, Methodology Manager, Education Review Office: Evaluation, whether it’s done by people within your service or people like ERO external to your service, it helps you identify what is going well, what your strengths are, and what you can do better. So engaging in internal evaluation supports your improvement journey. You then know what are the things you need to work on to improve and what are the things that are going really well that you can celebrate.

    It’s about doing the best for your children and their whānau. It’s about all children thriving and experiencing success. It’s about working in partnership and all children having opportunities to learn. It’s about recognising and responding to the children who come to your service, who they are, and all that they bring with them – their languages, their cultures, and their unique identities. And it’s about being really clear about what matters most for them and their learning. What are you giving priority to and how well are you doing in implementing a curriculum that focuses on those things? Evaluation can help you know that.

    Transcript

Leadership and successful internal evaluation

Te ara poutama (Education Review Office, 2020) highlights the importance of leadership to successful internal evaluation.

Effective leaders need to have a thorough understanding of the regulations and internal evaluation approaches.

Leaders:

  • develop effective planning, coordination and evaluation of curriculum, teaching and learning to promote equitable outcomes for all children
  • develop, implement, and evaluate systems, processes and practices to promote ongoing improvement.

Regulatory requirements

Early childhood services are required to undertake review and evaluation as part of their licensing requirements (GMA5 home-based and GMA6). The criteria to assess the governance, management, and administration standard specifies that an ongoing process of self review helps the service maintain and improve the quality of its education and care.

The licensing criteria require early childhood services to document:

  • a process for reviewing and evaluating their operation
  • a schedule showing timelines for planned review of different areas of operation
  • recorded outcomes from the review process.

The regulations (GMA7 home-based and GMA8) also require services to develop an annual plan and identify:

For more information, go to the regulatory framework.

What does internal evaluation involve?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Sandra Collins head and shoulders facing the camera

    Sandra Collins, Methodology Manager, Education Review Office: Great evaluation, and we all want to do really good evaluation because it takes time. If we are going to invest time in evaluation we have to understand a bit more about what it involves. It’s a systematic process. We notice what’s happening in our everyday practice and we decide whether there are things that we are seeing that we want to know more about.  So evaluation involves gathering information from a range of different sources, making sense of that information and using indicators or research evidence to help us understand what ‘really great’ practice looks like. It also involves deciding what we are going to improve, based on what we’ve found. 

    Evaluation draws on research methods, some of you may have undertaken some research. We use the same methods so we might observe, we might analyse some documents, and we might gather some voices and perspectives through meetings or hui or fono, or surveys. Also evaluation done well is about having the right conditions. Do you have a good level of trust and a culture in your service where people can be open, sometimes challenging conversations? So having the tools to get the information and the expertise to analyse and make sense of it is important. Finally, the most important part of internal evaluation is using what you have found. Otherwise why invest the time in doing it? Developing a plan that outlines the actions you are going to take, who’s going to do what, and when, that will guide your improvement efforts. What success looks like and what you will do to monitor and evaluate how you are going, need to be part of your plan. Evaluation can be fun and make your early childhood service a place that is continually growing and learning. Evaluation can help you make a real difference for your children now and into the future.

    Transcript

Internal evaluation involves:

  • asking good questions
  • gathering fit-for-purpose data and information
  • making sense of that information
  • prioritising actions for improvement
  • monitoring and evaluating the impact of specific improvement actions.

Internal evaluations vary greatly in scope, depth, and focus depending on the purpose and the context. Various approaches can be used but these should be selected specifically to inform internal evaluation purposes (See Ngā aronga whai hua, page 13).

An evaluation may be:

  • strategic – linked to vision, values, goals, and targets
  • a business-as-usual review of, for example, policy or procedures
  • a response to an unforeseen (emergent) event or issue.

Internal evaluation and the principles of Te Whāriki

Evaluation processes involve all four principles of Te Whāriki by:

  • including children’s perspectives and views so children’s agency and empowerment is promoted
  • taking account of the views and perspectives of parents, whānau, and community
  • undertaking internal evaluation in a way that is mindful of all dimensions of children’s learning and development
  • acknowledging relationships are integral to all evaluation processes and support effective inquiry and evaluation.

How do internal and external evaluation fit together?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    Sandra Collins head and shoulders facing the camera

    Sandra Collins, Methodology Manager, Education Review Office: When we add the word internal to evaluation, it means we are doing it to ourselves. When we talk about external evaluation, it’s evaluation that is done by someone outside our service, for example like the Education Review Office.

    Transcript

ERO has recently updated internal evaluation guidance for early childhood services. The below resource was developed to support leaders and kaiako to engage in internal evaluation.

Nga aronga whai hua

Improving quality in early childhood education through effective internal and external evaluation

Download this resource from ERO's site.

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You can also download the overview Ngā ara whai hua, one page document, for reference.

Ngaarawhai

Quality framework for evaluation and improvement in early childhood services

Download one page PDF from ERO's site.

Read More

To ensure an integrated approach to internal and external evaluation, evaluators use the same tools and resources. You can find out more by reading How we do Akarangi, Quality evaluations on the ERO site.  

More details about the internal and external evaluation process can be found in Te Ara Poutama – Indicators of quality for early childhood education: what matters mostThis resource builds on Effective Internal Evaluation for Improvement (2016) and replaces most of the content in He Pou Tātaki: How ERO reviews early childhood services (2013).

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