Policy and Guidelines for the Conduct of External Evaluation and Review

Key Components


Self-assessment includes the ongoing processes a TEO uses to gain evidence of its own effectiveness in providing quality education.

Responsibility for effective self-assessment is organisation-wide, actively involving governors, managers, teachers and support staff. Effective self-assessment is integrated into the business so that informed understanding of what is being achieved directly influences organisational decision-making, prioritising, planning and actions. It impacts throughout the organisation to maximise organisational effectiveness at all levels.

Key Features of Effective Self-Assessment

Processes used for self-assessment should be comprehensive, authentic, transparent, robust, and focused on the following areas.

  • Needs assessment - the extent to which TEOs systematically determine and address the needs of learners, employers and the wider community
  • Processes and practices - the processes and practices that help to achieve outcomes e.g. the primary importance of good teaching or the role of effective learner support services.
  • Learner achievement - the impact of educational provision on learner progress and achievement.
  • Outcomes - what is being achieved and the value of that for learners, employers and the wider community.
  • Using what is learned - self-assessment should result in evidence-based conclusions and decision-making that will feed into strategic and business planning, leading to positive change
  • Actual improvement - the extent to which improvements are relevant and worthwhile.

External Evaluation and Review

External evaluation and review is a periodic evaluation of a TEO to provide a statement of confidence (judgement) about an organisation’s educational performance and capability in self-assessment. It uses a systematic process to make independent judgements about the following.

Educational performance is the extent to which the educational outcomes achieved by a TEO represent quality and value for learners and other stakeholders. An evaluation of educational performance involves answering questions focused primarily on the quality of learning and teaching, and the achievements of learners.
Capability in self-assessment is the extent to which an organisation uses self-assessment information to understand performance and bring about improvement. It reflects the extent to which an organisation effectively manages its accountability and improvement responsibilities.

External evaluation focuses most directly on the:

  • extent to which the TEO systematically determines and addresses learner and wider community needs
  • key processes contributing to the achievement of outcomes for learners
  • quality of educational provision and its impact on learner progress and achievement
  • achievement of outcomes for learners and the wider community (employers, regions, local or national interests)
  • effectiveness of the TEO’s self-assessment in understanding its own performance and using this for improvement.

Using Evaluation

An evaluative approach has some particular attributes, including that it:

  • provides a systematic process for answering questions focused explicitly on quality, value and importance of tertiary education outcomes and key contributing processes
  • applies a ‘fresh eye’ to TEO activities to validate effective practices, identify areas for improvement and recognise new and innovative ways of doing things
  • focuses on needs assessment and ‘met needs’ as the basis for reaching conclusions about educational performance
  • provides a robust basis for reaching judgements about educational performance and capability in self-assessment. This involves both quantitative and qualitative information, referenced within the TEO (through expectations) and externally (through benchmarking).

In addition, good practice in external evaluation and review:

  • uses open and transparent processes which can contribute to improving self-assessment in the TEO
  • actively engages the TEO using participatory approaches
  • provides opportunities for the TEO to describe and explain its processes and outcomes, and for evaluators to fully understand what is happening
  • validates the evidence a TEO uses to substantiate its conclusions about quality and effectiveness
  • uses trained and competent evaluators with a wide range of experience in evaluating tertiary education to reach valid, comparable judgments about educational performance and capability in self-assessment.


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