Te arotake ā-roto
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?
- Why do we do it?
- What does internal evaluation involve?
- How do internal and external evaluation fit together?
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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- 'who', 'what', and 'when' in relation to key tasks the service intends to undertake each year
- how key tasks will have regard to the Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP).
For more information, go to the regulatory framework.
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.
A story of practice
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.
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.
You can also download the overview Ngā ara whai hua, one page document, for reference.
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 most. This 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).
Cardno, C. (2008). Action research in early childhood centres: Balancing research and professional development goals. New Zealand Research in Early Childhood Education (Vol. 11).
A brief practical guide to action research designed with New Zealand educational contexts in mind.
This section of the Education Review Office (ERO) website gives information about the process that ERO uses for reviews in early childhood services.
How quality is evaluated depends on how it is viewed. This chapter discusses different ways of defining quality in infant and toddler contexts.
Lorraine Sands makes the case for using systematic approaches like action research to review practice.