Policy and Guidelines for the Conduct of External Evaluation and Review

Introduction

These are the published evaluation methods, tools and processes for the purpose of Rule 5.6 of the External Evaluation and Review (EER) Rules 2013 ('the EER Rules'). They apply to external evaluation and review of private training establishments (PTEs), wānanga, institutes of technology and polytechnics and industry training organisations.

The Legislative and Policy Environment

Participation in self-assessment and external evaluation and review is required for maintaining accreditations to provide approved programmes, for maintaining training scheme approvals and consents to assess against standards, and for maintaining PTE registration.

The Quality Assurance Framework

Under the Education Act 1989, NZQA quality assures the non-university tertiary education sector through management of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and statutory rules which provide for a quality assurance framework comprising five components:

  • Listing and operational requirements for qualifications on the NZQF and for standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards
  • Initial entry processes of programme approval and training scheme approval, consent to assess against standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards, and the registration of private training establishments
  • Self-assessment
  • External evaluation and review
  • Compliance monitoring and risk management.

The quality assurance framework uses the theory and practice of evaluation in order to focus on the quality of educational outcomes. Evaluation as a discipline provides a systematic basis for answering questions about quality and value. Its use in tertiary education provides a practical approach to focusing on outcomes and key contributing processes, using both qualitative and quantitative information.

Evaluative quality assurance draws on a wide range of international theory and practice, in particular mixed method and participatory approaches, to arrive at a robust process for reaching consistent and comparable judgements.

The following four principles underpin the quality assurance framework.

'High Trust and High Accountability'

Evaluative quality assurance operates in an environment of 'high trust and high accountability' throughout the tertiary sector. The relationship between government agencies and TEOs is based on good communication and collaboration.

A high trust environment recognises a TEO has autonomy over its own processes, with minimal Crown intervention, except in relation to undertaking its regulatory roles.

The government recognises that quality is the direct responsibility of each individual TEO and that the TEO is accountable for the educational outcomes it achieves and the ongoing improvement of educational performance.

In return for greater autonomy, the Crown needs to have a high level of confidence in each TEO. External evaluation and review is the mechanism that will determine those levels of confidence. However, if the performance of a TEO falls below an acceptable level, that organisation will be monitored more closely by central agencies. Sanctions may come into play in such cases.

Quality As A Dynamic Concept

Quality is dynamic and will look different in different contexts. In tertiary education, what matters is the value that learners gain from their learning experience, the utility of their qualifications and the extent to which positive, longer-term outcomes occur.

This dynamic concept of quality is consistent with international trends, where there is a shift from quality control (meeting input standards) to quality enhancement and striving for excellence. This approach emphasises the aspects of an education experience that generate better outcomes.

Every TEO will have an understanding of quality which varies according to the purpose and goals of the organisation. In the TEO context, quality relates to how well learners actually achieve and the extent to which that achievement meets both their needs and those of the wide range of groups and individuals that have a direct, formal and often economic interest in the work of TEOs.

A Focus On Outcomes

Traditional quality assurance has focused mainly on inputs, systems and activities. This assumes that doing these well provides an assurance of quality.

Evaluative quality assurance is focused on the outcomes of tertiary education and the key processes that contribute to these outcomes. A key difference from traditional approaches is that while evaluative quality assurance also looks at processes, it does so from the perspective of the utility or impact of these processes on what is done and achieved - the 'valued outcomes' of tertiary education.

Outcomes are affected by contextual inputs such as student characteristics, staff and resources. An important indicator of quality in practice is a TEO taking all reasonable steps to maximise learner achievement.

Distinctive Contribution

Evaluative quality assurance is flexible and designed to constructively respond to the distinctive contributions and character of the wide range of tertiary education organisations in New Zealand.

Like the conception of quality, it recognises that evaluation will look different in different contexts, while still retaining the required consistency of approach to evaluate performance credibly.

In particular, the approach to evaluation taken by the distinctively Māori organisations, notably wānanga and Māori private training establishments, will directly reflect their values, beliefs and aspirations.

 
 
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