Policy Assessment Toolset
for equity and learning

Impact assessment in the context of ex ante policy evaluation
The conduct of impact assessment is considered as a useful step prior to the undertaking of a critical new policy initiative. The performance of potential impact assessments prior to the introduction of a new legislation, strategy, programme etc., is also a formal requirement in government work in many countries around the world. Impact assessments are also, for obvious reasons, important to perform after the full implementation of a policy initiative (ex-post evaluation).

As Podhora and his colleagues (2013) argue, research on impact assessment tools is scattered across different research communities. In the absence of organized fora for sharing ideas and knowledge, it is difficult for policy-makers and school leaders to know the state of the art with regard to tool development. However, there are some key analytical steps in performing impact assessment which are common in many different approaches.

Key analytical steps
Impact assessments can be structured around some key analytical steps, which may vary slightly depending on the type of school leadership policy initiatives:

Step #1: Problem definition (describes and provides evidence of the nature and scale of the school leadership problem and the student or other stakeholder groups, such as teachers or parents, that are primarily affected by it),
Step #2: Analysis justifying the necessity and added value of a new school leadership policy action,
Step #3: Objectives of policy action,
Step #4: Exploration of policy options for action (e.g., a 'no school leadership policy change' baseline scenario, discontinuing existing school leadership policy initiative, improved implementation where legislation already exists, self- and co-regulation etc.),
Step #5: Assessment of potential impacts of different school leadership policy approaches, clearly linked to the objectives and comparison between options. What target groups or school communities as a whole are likely to be affected by the impacts and when. Impacts on existing student attainment and observed inequalities in performance, and
Step #6: Practical arrangements for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of chosen policy initiative.

Comparisons of different policy options in order to inform school leadership policy decisions can be based on various methods and techniques, such as cost-benefit and cost-efficiency analysis, or a multi-criteria analysis.

Key analytical steps in ex-ante impact assessment