Policy Assessment Toolset
for equity and learning

Evaluations and related assessments of school leadership policies can be understood from the perspective of various stakeholders in the field of school education. Here we focus particularly on the perspectives of top-level policy makers, of school leaders and of academics/researchers.

School leadership policy evaluation & assessment from
School leadership policy evaluation has to make it clear from the start what needs it is expected to serve.

... the perspective of top level policy makers

Top level policy makers often need data so as to make informed decisions that are likely to affect school leadership on the school system as a whole and provide the the tax payers with evidence regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of their policies.

Evaluation and assessment, from the perspective of top level government officials, can be:
a policy instrument which serves on the one hand the needs of decision-making and on the other of transparency and accountability of their decisions and actions.
an instrument of control over those who are called to implement policies.

... the perspective of school leaders

School leaders are those who drive innovation and change in schools. To initiate innovation and implement changes in school life (i.e., changes in pedagogic methods, or measures to combat bullying) school leaders need information indicating what may be the potential benefits of the proposed changes, or what are the actual outcomes of an intervention after this has been implemented.

From the perspective of school leaders, evaluation and assessment of initiatives originating from within their own school can be very useful processes in order to:

take informed decisions about the appraisal, design and implementation of innovations in schools and the establishment of changes in school life based on solid evidence regarding their efficiency and effectiveness, and
gain support from other members of the school community to the initiatives and changes they propose or introduce.

School leaders are also increasingly under pressure to respond to demands for assessment data by the central government authorities. It is often the case that evaluation and assessment demands imposed to schools from above are often mistrusted by school leaders and school communities. This is because such top-down policy initiatives are often perceived as instruments of control and punishment rather than as valid methods for school improvement. Perhaps one important reason for mistrust is that school communities often have little or no influence in the decision making processes related to the goals, methods and actual uses of assessment data. It is therefore important to engage school-level stakeholders, not just school leaders, in all phases of decision making on the evaluation and assessment of top-down policy initiatives to ensure their widest possible ownership and sense of responsibility for their implementation and outcomes.

... the perspective of academics and researchers

While institutionalised policy assessments mainly reflect the concerns of top-level policy makers for data that can support immediate decision-making needs, academic-oriented research usually serves the concerns of social scientists who are interested to develop a deeper understanding of leadership, as this is (trans)formed and enacted in schools, within the complex frame of established regulatory regimes, policy agendas and intentions, dominant and emerging power structures in schools, stakeholder expectations, resources available, dispositions, day-to-day interactions and impact on school life.

Stakeholder theory is implicit theory. It is not endowed with prestige and attention as is scientific theory; it is, however, very important from a practical standpoint because stakeholders draw on it when contemplating their program’s organization, intervention procedures, and client-targeting strategies. Stakeholders' implicit theories are not likely to be systematically and explicitly articulated, and so it is up to evaluators to help stakeholders elaborate their ideas.
(Chen, 2005, p. 41)