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A framework for school improvement

ACER is working with schools and school systems to review current school practices to achieve ongoing improvements in the quality of classroom teaching and learning.

In 2008 ACER Chief Executive Professor Geoff Masters was commissioned by the Queensland Department of Education and Training to review primary school education in Queensland. One outcome of that review was the development of the Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework, an evidencebased tool that can be used to evaluate a school’s practices in areas that have been shown through research to have an influence on the quality of classroom teaching and learning. 

The framework was used as the basis of an ‘audit’ of every government school in Queensland in 2010. It is now being used as part of that system’s ongoing school review cycle, in government school reviews in the Northern Territory and as a basis for school self-reviews in Tasmanian government schools. ACER also has used the framework to conduct school reviews for non-government schools that have requested independent evaluations of their teaching and learning practices.

Most education systems in Australia already have well-established school improvement processes. The advantage of the Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework is that, rather than addressing the wide range of matters typically included in school improvement frameworks, it focuses on a small number of questions that are particularly important in improving student outcomes. Is the school clear about what outcomes it wants to see improved? Is it monitoring progress in improving these outcomes and encouraging the school-wide analysis and discussion of data? Does the school have a culture of high expectations? Does the school use its limited physical and human resources to maximise student outcomes?Do the staff of the school function as an expert professional team? Is the school’s curriculum delivery clear and coherent? Does the school place a priority on identifying and addressing the learning needs of individual students? Does the school work to ensure that highly effective teaching practices are implemented throughout the school?

An important feature of the Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework is that it describes varying levels of practice – from Low to Outstanding – enabling judgements about where schools are in their individual improvement journeys. In this way, the framework provides a common language of improvement and also assists in the identification of improvement strategies appropriate to schools’ particular circumstances. ■

Update:
The Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework was renamed the National School Improvement Tool after it was endorsed by the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) at its meeting on 7 December 2012. The National School Improvement Tool has been made available to all Australian schools for use in their school improvement planning from 2013.

Further information on the National School Improvement Tool is available at <www.acer.edu.au/school-improvement>

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