Newell, S & Graham, A 2010, The e-guide: effective, efficient evaluation in education, Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Opportunities often arise for School of Education academics to develop research links with local schools, usually through requests for help with program evaluations (eg: 'we need to find out whether program X works so we can seek more funding'). It is likely these requests will increase over coming years, as at least 85 schools in the SCU footprint will receive 4-years substantial additional funding through COAG’s National Partnership on Low Socioeconomic Status School Communities, which will be rolled out over the next three years. Unlike the associated National Partnership on Literacy & Numeracy, the Low-SES Partnership allows schools considerable scope to implement their own strategies, or existing programs “to address the complex and inter-connected challenges facing students in disadvantaged communities”. Appendix A lists local NSW schools currently selected to receive funding through these two National Partnerships. In addition, 15% of the Low-SES Partnership budget is reserved for applications from schools outside the selected group, although the timing and process for schools to apply are not yet clear. Also unlike the Lit-Num Partnership, the Low-SES Partnership currently has no structured or compulsory evaluation processes, although NSW DET have developed an optional “Community Engagement” survey which collects views (of a variety of school & community members) regarding 22 items around schools’ relevance, communication, engagement with and support for families and about community engagement in children’s learning. In addition, some Low-SES schools are using the tools required as part of the Lit-Num Partnership (see the Recommended Weblinks section for more details about both Partnerships). Therefore, the Low-SES Partnership offers considerable scope for research and/or evaluation projects exploring the effectiveness of different interventions or approaches: for example, in relation to the potential benefits of increasing students’ meaningful participation in school administration or increasing parental engagement in schools. Whilst the nature of programs and the needs of schools will differ markedly, within and outside these National Partnerships, there are some general principles of program evaluation that are relevant for most programs. This “E-Guide” (Effective, Efficient Evaluation in Education) has been developed to assist you to say 'yes' next time you receive a call from a school requesting assistance with 'research'. It provides an overview of learnings from the CCYP’s experiences with providing evaluation advice &/or support for many organisations, across over 40 programs.