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Schools are the basic building blocks of education and training systems and key actors of education  policy. School evaluation is an important way to improve school organisation and functioning as well  as improving the quality of education.  

logo.jpgThe main goal for any kind of evaluation is acting for improvement in a company-like perspective;  anyhow in a complex system like Schools where all ties and connections are multiple and difficult to  stereotype, where many different actors play important roles, it is not easy to evaluate and assess a  school institution.  

In Europe, each country is responsible for the organization and content of its education and training  system. The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (“ET 2020”) is  a forum allowing Member States to exchange best practises based on lifelong learning approach and  designed to cover learning in all contexts – formal, non-formal and informal – at all levels. 

There are the two major types of school evaluation: external evaluation, conducted by evaluators who  are not directly involved in school activities, and internal evaluation, where most evaluators are  members of the examined school's staff.  

External evaluation focuses on the school as an entity and essentially aims to monitor and improve  its quality. In most cases, external school evaluation assesses a broad range of school activities, such  as educational and management tasks, student outcomes, the quality of teaching, and compliance with  regulations.  

The process is largely based on a three-step approach: (1) preliminary analysis, (2) site visits, and (3)  reporting. 'Site visits' are a common pattern to all external school evaluation processes and are meant  to provide evaluators with first-hand evidence of school performance and functioning. During such  visits evaluators consult school documents, observe teaching practices, and discuss with in-school  actors and, if foreseen, with external stakeholders. The third 'reporting' phase consists of preparing a  final school evaluation report. 

The first requirement of an appropriate organisational model is efficiency, which measures the  relationship between the output, which is the result attained and the input that is the number of factors  involved. It is clearly evident that the concept of efficiency when transferred to a public service, in  this case schools, takes on a significance which is difficult to compare with what happens in a  company or a firm as the factors involved, like for example the human resources and the material  resources, do not depend on the headmaster. 

Effectiveness depends on the relationship between anticipated results and results actually achievwed;  this relationship is based on two conditions: the definition of clear and realistic goals and the capacity  to reach these goals in a complex context.

Another key word is flexibility, which is the ability of the organisation to establish a balance between  the inner system and the requests of external environment. Sociological theories identify three types  of flexibility: strategic as the capacity of the organisation to adapt its strategy within the context of  limits and the opportunities in which people operate; structural, the capacity to promote the internal  conditions needed to deal with change without having to resort to restructuring processes;  operational, coinciding with the development of the ability to delegate, the promotion of intermediate  leadership and a system of common responsibility. 

At the basis of the organisational change, there is the integration between different parties, in other  worlds’ efforts to link up information and decisions and to render people’s competences  interdependent, so that all these factors are coherent in their aim of achieving the goal set.  Remedial actions are the most common outcome of external school evaluation. Most countries make  their final external evaluation reports public.  

Internal school evaluation is compulsory in 27 education systems and it is carried out by schools  themselves to evaluate their own quality. Members of school staff, and, in some cases, in  collaboration with other school stakeholders, such as students, parents, or members of the local  community primarily perform it. Internal school evaluations can deal with any aspect of school life,  from the school's pedagogical approach to its administration.  

Participation of school stakeholders during school evaluation is highly recommended by the European  Parliament and the Council. 

Clara Peruzzi, laureata cum laude in Lingue e letterature straniere presso l’Università degli Studi di Bari, Dirigente Scolastico presso il Secondo Circolo Didattico San Giovanni Bosco di Terlizzi (BA) e ex-docente di lingua inglese di scuola superiore a tempo indeterminato da ventisei anni, con esperienza quadriennale di lavoro presso le Nazioni Unite a Vienna (IEAE), nonché traduttrice in lingua inglese, francese e tedesca presso il Tribunale di Trani, è docente formatrice delle insegnanti di scuola primaria di lingua inglese specializzata in didattica della lingua, formatrice per corsi per adulti e ragazzi con certificazioni CAMBRIDGE di vario livello e referente esami TRINITY. Negli anni ha curato vari volumi collettivi e ha pubblicato “The First English Book for Teachers and Headmasters 100%”, “The English Book for nursery and primary school teachers”, “L’inglese per i docent di scuola primaria e dell’infanzia” e il videocorso “Let’s start learning English together- from 0 to B1”. 


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