In autumn 2016, the National Assessment and Examination Center and Teachers’ Professional Development Agency in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Education Quality Enhancement Agency started the School Evaluation for Improvement project (SEI).
The consortium has announced a call for public school principals, inviting them to cooperate. Over 100 school principals submitted applications and after reviewing the applications and interviews, 15 schools were invited to participate in the project.
School principals from a variety of educational environments (urban, rural, remote, language minority schools, large and small) are now represented in the School Evaluation and Improvement Project Consortium. The quest for the Georgian model of school evaluation starts with learning – learning from each other and learning from schools abroad. School principals, together with representatives from the Ministry, NAEC, and TPDC are participating in workshops held by Dutch and German school principals.
In October and November, 2017, the consortium members visited schools in Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The study tours were planned so that the consortium members could learn about the implementation of school evaluation and improvement from a variety of perspectives include those of teachers, administrators, local agencies that monitor and support schools in the process, local education authorities, and universities. School staff members participated in trainings on data collection and analysis. At the same time, schools are developing their own evaluation and improvement models to experiment with and learn from. Each participating school has developed a plan for the first round of evaluations.
The first round will be implemented throughout the winter and spring of 2017. This round of evaluations will be driven by school priorities or school community consensus. For example, a school that has had a long tradition of specializing in German language selected the teaching and learning of foreign languages as their strategic priority for the next four years (identified as such prior to joining the project). This school, in the first round of pilots, will focus on investigating teaching and learning of English language. Another school principal arranged a discussion with teachers, and together they identified communication with parents as their priority because of an increasing number of complaints from parents on social media. Schools have now submitted their evaluation plans for the first round of pilots. In the process, schools will discuss their plans and the implementation process together, and they will receive feedback from local and international consultants.
The second round of evaluations, starting in June 2018, will be data-driven: schools will look at their performance results in standardized tests (offered by NAEC) in STEM subjects, examine their results per learning objective and achievement level, and then identify areas for further investigation and improvement.
In the course of the project, the project research team will conduct a series of interviews, focus groups, and surveys with school principals and other members of the schools’ communities in order to support the ongoing research and encourage joint reflection on developing evaluation culture in Georgian schools as well as the challenges that schools face in the process. This knowledge will be used for dissemination and policy planning.