PROFESSIONALISM OF EVALUATORS CARRYING OUT EXTERNAL QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF GENERAL EDUCATION SCHOOL ACTIVITY: SITUATION IN LITHUANIA
Authors: Dalia Survutaitė
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Education and Culture documents (2004) point out that assessment of school activity quality is a mandatory precondition striving for implementation of the Lisbon strategy. EU and national documents (Lithuanian State Long-Term Development Strategy, 2002; State Education Strategy, 2003; Programme of Government of the Republic of Lithuania, 2004; Education Monitoring Procedure 2005;) are implemented in Lithuania on a par with other countries that carry out European education reform; new models for quality management of education as a service are introduced as well as emerging modern culture of self-evaluation and evaluation of activity. The main focus of the methodologies (Internal Audit Methodology for Comprehensive Schools, 2004; External Audit of School Management and Educational Proceeding Improvement, 2005; Description of Procedure for Internal Quality Audit of Comprehensive School Activity, 2007; Description of Procedure for Internal Quality Assessment of Comprehensive School Activity, 2009) under implementation is laid not on the analysis of documents regulating the activity of the organisation and on imposing punishments but on the quality assessment when the process is observed directly, when there occurs communication with teachers, school learners, school administration, other school staff members, stakeholders and when the outcome is evaluated.
External assessment of school activity is carried out in Lithuania through implementation of modern organisational–structural elements. One of the most essential features constructing an external school activity assessment system is its constant renewal, which is based on reflection and application of applied research data. External evaluator of school activity is a factor, which deter-mines not only data collection and their interpretation but also improvement of teacher’s activity and change in school culture. Therefore, preparation of external evaluators and their acquired competences call for a particular attention.
This article presents the conception of external evaluators’ competences, analyses the opin-ion of Lithuanian teachers regarding competences of evaluators, who carry out activity assessment in Lithuanian general education schools. The roles of external evaluators are described and profes-sionalism of external evaluators is analysed. The article also reveals teachers’ opinions about com-petences of external quality assessment evaluators, which were surveyed applying quality research methods (focus group).
Teachers perceive external activity quality assessment conducted in Lithuanian general edu-cation schools as a very intensive process, where professional evaluators act as an organised team. The whole process is understood as prophylaxis or examination, when a reliable diagnosing of school activity spheres is carried out.
The teachers’ survey regarding their opinion about the external assessment of activity quality conducted in their school revealed that the respondents were satisfied with external assessment, which was based on identification of the good sides and strengthening of the good practice. Being rather critical and self–critical, teachers have formed an increased expectation to more intensively feel rhetoric of external evaluators regarding organisation of education process. The respondents long for independent and unbiased expanded comments from evaluators, which would point to the strong spheres of teacher’s educational activity, would disseminate this information in the school community and national education system.
External evaluators of general education schools have to meet certain requirements that are defined through qualification requirements and competences that are necessary for an evaluator who aims to improve the school. Formal qualification requirements (higher pedagogical education, experience in pedagogical work, awareness of documents regulating education activity) are satisfied but problems are faced when principles, values, self–perception and positive attitude to the environment of an evaluator of school activity quality are analysed. Considerate, attentive and discrete evaluators increase the degree of positive while observing, recording and analysing teaching/learning processes.
The majority of teachers appreciate unbiased and expert evaluation, which is perceived as assessment and enhancement of own activity or that of school as well as encouragement to direct their activity towards renewal.