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OACS launching multi-stage review process for secondary schools

Written on November 16th, 2009

PAFSS encourages quality Christian education through continual school renewal process

ANCASTER, Ont. – The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) has developed a new high school quality review system called the Progressive Assessment Framework for Secondary Schools (PAFSS).

OACS director of school quality programs Lorna Keith and director of secondary services Gary VanArragon gave a presentation introducing the evaluation program at the Alliance’s Governance Conference Nov. 7.

“It is going to allow you to be really accountable to your community, to your stakeholders, to everybody involved in the enterprise,” said Keith.

“(This system is) going to identify needed change and renewal, ultimately to make the school a better place of learning for the children,” she said.

The program is replacing a previous OACS high school evaluation system.

The earlier system was comprised of school stakeholders filling out surveys, which were assessed by the Alliance. OACS representatives came into the school for a day or two and made recommendations.

VanArragon said they realized when people come in from outside the school the value of the work that is done is limited, as it is hard to get a sense of the school’s culture and ethos in such a short time period.

Rather than this type of external review PAFSS is an internal review that results in the school’s stakeholders generating the recommendations and plan for improvement.

“The focus is on people inside the school community,” said VanArragon. “We are really encouraging boards to think strategically.”

PAFSS is available to OACS member schools every six years and emphasizes assessment based on the school’s mission and vision.

The framework measures educational quality in the following five domains (areas of review), with a total of 10 norms (standards to look for):

  • School identity – governance, vision
  • School management – administration, finances
  • Academic performance - curriculum, students, teachers
  • School culture – buildings, school culture
  • Community relations – community relations

There are three stages of the review – an internal review, a school evaluation and ongoing school improvement.

In the internal review stage the school appoints a five or six-member local review team. The team includes a board member, a program committee member, the principal and/or vice-principal, a staff member and a parent. The review team is provided with OACS documents and an OACS advisor.

During this first stage the OACS processes results from the school’s stakeholder surveys, which are completed in the months prior to the internal review team appointment. The review team completes PAFSS worksheets and an Internal Review Report for the school board.

In the evaluation stage two auditors from the OACS conduct an onsite visit to the school and review the report. The team then completes an evaluation report that is communicated to the board.

In the final stage – local school improvement – an OACS regional director assists the school with developing a strategic management plan for moving forward.

Though the timeline may vary, the surveys and internal review team appointment are scheduled to take place in the spring and the internal review period happens from September to June.

PAFSS is included in OACS membership, and is a service valued at $15,000.

Unity Christian High School in Barrie is currently piloting the review process. The first group for regular scheduling in the program is to start in the spring.

Keith has a schedule of when schools will be invited into the PAFSS process, based on a six-year regional rotation schedule.