Does Quality Assurance In school Education Ensure Transparency And Accountability?
By Swaleha Sindhi
30 August, 2013
The concern of any parent today is how to make their children realize their dreams in life. The race for a good education starts the day the child turns two years and does not end until the child enters the college. With the Indian economy becoming global year after year and parents, attaching more importance to quality education the competition to secure a seat in the best schools has become even more severe . Large no. of researchers have viewed school quality in terms of the learning outcomes of students exhibited in form of cognitive achievement, which has been identified as the major explicit objective of all schools. Hence, it is the students' cognitive achievement that is most often taken as an indicator of school quality. The NPE 1986 envisaged that inspecting staff would be responsible for academic standards and providing academic leadership to ensure better performances by schools. So far, there were no accreditation standards for primary and secondary education institutes in India. Private schools and government-aided schools have set forth their own standards regarding school governance and therefore have remained away from a universal accreditation system. The board, called National Accreditation board and Training, has developed the procedures for schools that seek the accreditation but such school accreditation is not mandatory.
In spite of the societal demand for quality assurance in education and the need for thorough supervision in schools, there is a growing concern about the realization of educational objectives due to doubt that many schools give little attention to supervision of instructional activities. Consequently, there have been steady decline in teachers' instructional task performance and students' academic performance which depicts non-realization of quality assurance in schools.
This has been largely attributed to gaps in teachers ‘competence, curriculum instruction, learning facilities and resources, funding and institutional management. In case of all the State Board schools inspections is the only way of assessing quality of educational institutions, and it is an important link between the education administration and individual schools. Thus quality of education is not monitored as required to enhance the teaching learning processes in the schools. If school authorities adopt a proper quality assurance mechanism for their schools and monitor quality continuously with respect to different identified indicators and appropriate actions initiated to achieve the goals, such an approach will help the management and the teachers to become aware of their responsibilities with regard to establishing quality in their management and teaching functions.
Need for School Quality Assessment and Accreditation
Assessment and Accreditation essentially aims at Institutional capacity building for continuous quality improvement through self-analysis and self-monitoring of quality enhancement processes. Assessment and Evaluation of an Institution is intended to be a means to document its Educational Quality and Institutional Effectiveness. Fostering Institutional improvement and demonstrating its accountability are complementary processes that assure the quality of an Institution. On the whole, it would help institutions in capacity building. The process of accreditation would monitor identified outcomes at all levels and across all spheres of school education. It would help teachers, educational administrators and all other stakeholders involved in school education to learn from this exercise and improve themselves. It refers to a voluntary method of quality assurance mostly achieved through interventional and participative processes carried out by peer assessors on behalf of an agency or the Board. It is both a process and a status. As a process it reflects the fact that in the process of achieving accreditation the school goes through a process of self discovery and self audit as well as external review by peers which help to qualitatively improve the institution. In terms of status, it provides public with the information that school meets the standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency.
Quality Assurance in School Systems
Makes explicit the purpose and nature of educational provision.
Have clear educational goals and the relevant curriculum.
Responsibility for ensuring quality in the school system remains with the main actors in the system – the schools and teachers themselves
Helps to create a sense of accountability for the day-to-day work of schools and classrooms and a shared commitment to high standard
Strategies for Quality Assurance
I n-service teacher education - ongoing advanced training
External assesment of knowledge
Pedagogical leadership by the school head
A successful quality strategy begins with an organizational environment that fosters quality, followed by an understanding of the principles of quality, and then an effect to engage employees in the necessary activities to implement quality. When these things are done well, the organization typically satisfies its customers, and obtains the competitive advantage . The elements that can be adopted and reinforced by a certain strategy for school effectiveness are as follows;
Clear and shared vision of what students are to achieve in the particular school.
A means of translating this vision into a strategic development plan for the school.
Ownership of the vision and development plan by all stake holders in the school community who is responsible, for what, and by when.
Identification of the professional development requirements for staff to implement the schools development program.
Structures and processes for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the strategies for school development, with provision for feedback to the implementation process itself.
A periodic review and evaluation of achievements, one which takes stock of plans for further development in the school.
Such quality strategies could involve, staff development and cultural change, rewarding excellence, establishing a new educational policy and incorporating self-evaluation.
What is observed is that there is lack of a transparent accountability system. Schools hesitate to go for student feedback and Parent satisfaction surveys, denying permission to researchers for conducting research in their school. Moreover, transparency is just one of several, perhaps more important, factors that may influence a school's autonomy in making decisions about the curriculum; the qualifications of teachers; and the existence of a clear framework of accountability etc. Thus, transparency and accountability in the education system make the basic service delivery more effective. By promoting dialogue and strategic partnerships between school leaders, key stakeholders and civil society, School leadership can promote positive change and reform at various levels, empowering the stakeholders to demand transparent and effective services from the schools.
(Ms.Swaleha Sindhi is an Assistant Professor in The M.S.University of Baroda, Gujarat. Her area of interest is Management of Education, Quality in Education, Educational Administration and Secondary Education. She can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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