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Australia’s School Improvement Framework


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Presentation by Robert Hassell - Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

Since 2012 all Australian States and territories, and the Federal government, have endorsed an approach to school improvement that was originally developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research in conjunction with the Queensland State Government. While there is an increasing trend towards autonomy of school leadership, all schools in Australia are expected to write a school improvement plan. Rather than focusing purely on desired outcomes, the approach is based on the view that the most effective strategy for improving student achievement in schools is to improve the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning. In this presentation I will outline the research and development underpinning the National School Improvement Tool (ACER, 2012) and its current use for school improvement review and planning that focuses on these important behaviours.

Presentazione di Robert Hassel in occasione del suo intervento al convegno internazionale "Migliorare la scuola", tenutosi a Napoli il 14-15 Maggio 2015 e organizzato dall'Indire.

Published in: Education
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Australia’s School Improvement Framework

  1. 1. Australia’s School Improvement Framework Robert Hassell
  2. 2. Some Context: 1. Australia is a Federation. There are six states and two territories. 2. The States and Territories are constitutionally responsible for education . 3. There are three sectors of Education in Australia. 4. Every school receives funding from several sources. Information about the National School Improvement Tool can be found at
  3. 3. Further Context: The Australian Government with the State and Territory Governments decided that these results were not acceptable and that the way to improve was at a school level. PISA Average Reading Score 2000-12 Source: Masters ACER (2014) What will it take to turn things around? PISA Average Mathematics Score 2000-12 Source: Masters ACER (2014) What will it take to turn things around?
  4. 4. Other Government Initiatives: • The Australian Curriculum • The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers • The National Professional Standards for Principals • National Standards for initial teacher education • Education Services Australia, which is tasked with providing digital resources for Australian schools • The My School website, which provides consistent outcome data on every school in Australia, including results from the National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy • The National Safe Schools Framework • The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability • A review of funding for Australian schools
  5. 5. Can you see evidence of learning taking place in these classrooms ? (Make a short list) • From this very cursory observation, can you suggest improvements that could be made to learning in these classrooms? • What else would you need to know to answer this question?
  6. 6. The National School Improvement Tool 1. An explicit improvement agenda 2. Analysis and discussion of data 3. A culture that promotes learning 4. Targeted use of school resources 5. An expert teaching team 6. Systematic curriculum delivery 7. Differentiated teaching and learning 8. Effective pedagogical practice 9. School-community partnerships The Tool does not describe everything that effective schools do, but focuses on those practices that are most directly related to school-wide improvements, and thus the outcomes for students. In this sense, the Tool can be thought of as a core element of more comprehensive school improvement programs, frameworks and initiatives.” (Masters, 2012, National School Improvement Tool)
  7. 7. National School Improvement Tool Domain 1: An explicit improvement agenda The school leadership team and/or governing body have established and are driving a strong improvement agenda for the school, grounded in evidence from research and practice and expressed in terms of improvements in measurable student outcomes. Explicit and clear school- wide targets for improvement have been set and communicated to parents and families, teachers and students, with accompanying timelines. The assessment of this domain includes consideration of the extent to which: • The governing body, school principal and other school leaders are united, committed to and explicit about their core objective to improve learning outcomes for all students in the school; • Progress towards targets is monitored and initiatives and programs are systematically evaluated for their effectiveness in producing desired improvements in student learning and performance. • The school has made an effort to understand current student achievement levels, and how achievement levels have changed over time, including for students in social inclusion priority groups, students at risk of disengaging or who have disengaged from schooling, and students facing disadvantage, including students with a disability, those from non-English speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, those from low-SES backgrounds and regional and remote areas;
  8. 8. The Tool has proven to be generic and flexible: “The ACER School Improvement review and planning process has been used in schools across the State, Catholic and Independent sectors in Australia, as well as internationally. The focus of the domains is independent of system, religious or national context. Without exception the ACER consultants have commented that the Tool is relevant and useful in all of these contexts as it focuses on teaching and learning.” (Seifert, D., Hartnell-Young, E. , 2015 An Effective School Improvement Framework: Using the National School Improvement Tool,5)
  9. 9. Robert Hassell National School Improvement Tool For more information on the ACER School Improvement process and the associated research, please contact: Robert Marshall Senior Project Director, School Improvement Australian Council for Educational Research +61 3 9277 5346 +61 0439 665 965