25 July 2014

QTU receives answers to member concerns regarding the School Performance Assessment Framework

The QTU met with the Director-General of Education and two of the Deputy Directors-General of Education yesterday to discuss the issues raised by members with respect to the School Improvement Unit (SIU) and the School Performance Assessment Framework, which were announced by email to schools on Tuesday 22 July.

The QTU has advised DETE that any changes, such as those proposed in this framework, must be the subject of negotiations with the Union as the professional and industrial organisation representing teachers and principals in Queensland. The department has committed to ongoing consultation with the QTU.

The document distributed is draft and will be piloted with a range of schools in Term 3 and 4 and will be modified accordingly. The appointment of an executive director for the SIU will occur in the near future and that person will be responsible for the trial.

The QTU will also be seeking a joint statement with DETE regarding the framework and its implementation.

The QTU sought clarification around a number of issues. The responses provided by DETE, as outlined below, have been affirmed by the Director-General today.

Frequency of review: Members had expressed concerns with respect to the frequency of reviews and the impact that these would have on the school in addition to all other reviews and audits currently being undertaken.

Desk top audits will be undertaken every year, however reviews arising from these desk top audits will typically only occur once every four years, unless a crisis review is required.

The department advised that should a school be identified as one requiring support, it will not be required to have a review every year.

An additional audit in addition to existing reviews

While the teaching and learning audit domains will form part of the review, the teaching and learning audits themselves will cease from 2015. As part of red tape reduction, the SIU will look to consolidate and streamline existing review and audit processes, including financial audit procedures and regional based audit/reviews.

The purpose of creating the process, as advised by the Director-General, is to standardise practices across regions, to provide a transparent model of school performance assessment, and to develop a transparent and consistent form of school assessment model for all schools across the state - as such, separate regional models or variations of school performance reviews will cease.

The reliance on NAPLAN data for measuring school performance

DETE advised that the headline indicators were developed in consultation with principals over a six month period, and that NAPLAN has been used consistently for a number of years, along with other data, to reflect on school performance.

The apparent move away from reflecting on the distance travelled by a school to establish performance measurements in comparison with other schools

DETE has evolved the use of distance travelled (relative gain) to now include reference to school context (i.e., ICSEA) (headline indicator 4).

The reference to relative gain within the remaining headline indicators refers to the distance travelled by a particular school cohort over time.

In order to enhance student outcomes within schools, a needs-based resourcing model is necessary to support development

The purpose of this process is to allow for resources to be allocated to schools differentially. Schools requiring additional resources will be supported.

The department advised that there is a clear need for change in the role of regions and assistant regional directors, from directing schools on what to do to providing support. Regions will be accountable for outcomes and the support they provide to schools as part of the process.

What are the consequences for school leaders should annual audits continue to identify their school as one requiring support?

The Director-General stated that the new framework is not linked to contracts for school leaders, is separate and distinct from the principal performance review process and is not a trigger for instituting managing unsatisfactory performance processes.

The underlying purpose of the School Performance Assessment Framework is to assist and support schools to improve performance. The framework is meant to be a supportive model.

The QTU raised concerns about how the review outcomes may be recorded, especially in light of previous experience with the publication of league tables

It is not the intention of the School Performance Assessment Framework to score a school with respect to its performance in particular areas. The purpose is to provide quality feedback and a series of recommendations to allow the school to continue to develop and move forward.

The Union also indicated the use of non-state school principals as part of the external review team as a concern. The Director-General indicated that if non-state school principals are involved, they will not be imposed on schools.

Overall, the department has indicated that the School Performance Assessment Framework will be further refined following an initial trial. The trial is likely to commence in late term three or early term four 2014. The purpose of the trial is to develop a framework that allows a focus on school improvements, and to develop a process which best adds value to schools and assists them in their school improvement journey.

In order to ensure that the commitments as outlined above by DETE are met, the QTU will maintain a watching brief on the trial, familiarisation and implementation of the School Performance Assessment Framework. The department has also committed to continued consultation with the QTU. To assist the Union to continue to address the concerns of members regarding this process, members are encouraged to provide any feedback to the Union via email qtu@qtu.asn.au

Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary,
Queensland Teachers' Union,  21 Graham St,  Milton,Q.4064