Methodological challenges: Selecting schools and other issues in the AESOP study

Year: 2001

Author: Barnes, Geoff, Sawyer, Wayne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A project such as this clearly requires a sophisticated and innovative mix of methodologies. Phase I has been focused on identifying which school-sites are likely candidates for further investigation, given the overall aims of the study. The site-selection process has involved the consideration of a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data available within the NSW Department of Education and Training.

A key feature was the use of both value-added performance data, as a primary source of evidence in choosing the English, Mathematics and Science faculty sites, and also students' BST performances in Year 5, linked to their School Certificate outcomes. These were used to identify those schools consistently achieving 'outstanding' outcomes, taking into account socioeconomic and geographic contextual factors. Additional sites in other KLAs were identified by extrapolating back from SC/1-ISC value-added data. As well, quantitative data relating to student attendance, truancy, counsellor referrals, and like, was drawn on, along with DET's growing body of student affective outcomes data. Qualitative data was obtained from DET's School Improvement Officers and Curriculum Consultants, as well as a variety of other stakeholders and interested parties. These sets of quantitative and qualitative data sources were then 'triangulated' against each other, in order to identify approximately 50 'sites of excellence' across traditional 'subj ect-departments' and whole-school programs.

This paper presents some of the technical issues and challenges in this phase of the project.