Principles for School Evaluation and Assessment
We accept as a matter of course that British Columbia public schools should be accountable to the citizens of the province for the educational health and welfare of the children enrolled in the public schools. The following principles are intended to help stakeholders in education build a system focused on strengthening outcomes for children, families, and the communities in which they reside. Effective school evaluation and assessment support both the system (by increasing its credibility and legitimacy, and supporting improvement and change) and its stakeholders (by ensuring that their needs are met in an open and transparent manner).[i] Education takes multiple forms, occurring in many different places, and evolves as society changes. As such, there is no one best system of accountability, although there are principles to which such systems should adhere.
Focus on the system
In a public education system, evaluation and assessment mechanisms should be focused at the system level. Within the public school system, there are many other mechanisms already in place to support the individual accountability of teachers, administrators, parents, and students.
The primary goals should be to increase stakeholder understanding of that system and to improve student learning. Such understanding can only be built by opening that system to public view. Transparency is increased when there is free and open access to a diversity of high quality evidence of student learning and growth.
Protect stakeholder personal privacy and individual rights
For a school evaluation and assessment system to be effective and transparent, it must be built on accurate information. Protecting the privacy rights of individuals within the system (students, parents, teachers and administrators) increases the integrity of the data collected by removing incentives to artificially manipulate outcomes.
An effective school evaluation and assessment system includes all stakeholder groups (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the general public) in the design and implementation of the system and ensures the opportunity to inform decision making through diverse mechanisms for feedback and input. Respectful communication across stakeholder groups is nurtured and supported.
Schools represent an important public commitment to local communities. As such, evaluation and assessment systems are flexible enough to allow schools to focus on the local needs of students, families, and the broader community.
Focus on the learner
The learner is at the center of public education. An effective school evaluation and assessment system supports a broad-based education that includes the aesthetic, artistic, cultural, emotional, social, intellectual, academic, physical and vocational development of students.
Teaching and learning are complex tasks that can only be demonstrated by a diversity of evidence. An effective system uses multiple data sources, including qualitative and quantitative data, with particular attention to professional standards for data collection, use, and reporting.
Protect the public interest
An effective school evaluation and assessment system seeks to protect the public interest by ensuring that schools prepare learners for a socially responsible life in a free and democratic society. The system recognizes the social context of education and the school’s role in breaking down the barriers of poverty, marginalization, and social inequality, through the strengthening of educational opportunity.
Schools serve a diverse constituency within their communities. An effective school evaluation and assessment system supports and encourages equity for students from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and seeks to ensure the adequate distribution of resources within and across those communities so that students from marginalized and less privileged communities have as much opportunity to achieve success as those from more privileged backgrounds.
An effective school evaluation and assessment system holds the public accountable, through its elected representatives, for providing the resources necessary to carry out the mission and mandates placed upon the public schools.
[i] Much of this work is based on previous national and international efforts to strengthen public accountability systems, including the GAP Framework from the One World Trust and The Charter for Public Education.