Just the word “assessment” often sends shivers down our spines. It conjures up judgment, negative feedback, and feeling of failure. This is so sad and it is a mind-set we are trying to change. But we need to improve performance so how do we do it?
In a township environment where most of our teachers have not had the opportunity to experience quality education themselves, to be assessed can be a terrifying concept. Their self-esteem and confidence is shaky anyway and this does not need to be compounded by being “assessed” for competency.
At Starting Chance we believe that we should see assessment as something quite different. Managing for Performance is a much more positive approach. In an early childhood environment, there are key components that enhance performance and thereby create environments where children can be exposed to excellence in the form of a learning environment that ensures they are given a real chance to become “school ready”. We help to identify those components and to support our teachers to aim for excellence in a nurturing and encouraging way.
Monitoring and evaluation is key to achieving sustainable improvement in the quality of learning programmes being delivered. Starting Chance uses various types of tools to tailor in-service skills transfer to individual needs, helping teachers to grow their knowledge and skill. This helps to nurture individual self-esteem and confidence through professional development that encourages and enables improved performance. Our on-site support provided by our educational coordinator and field worker plays a vital role in building on strengths and closing knowledge and experiential gaps.
Managing for performance also underpins the support we provide to principals, as entrepreneurs in their communities, to develop their businesses to provide a high-quality service to the children and their parents. It means that Starting Chance can provide independent proof to donors that their investment in our programme is in good hands that deliver meaningful results with real benefit to everyone involved.
Particularly exciting is to witness ongoing good performance when Starting Chance is NOT involved in the daily running of the schools and their programmes. Baseline evaluations were conducted by an independent assessor in all our schools when we started the project in 2013. In the first year, it was clear our phase 1 extension schools needed support in key areas e.g nature and science, language to develop reasoning and spatial awareness. After 3 years, the scores had improved significantly but what would happen when Starting Chance moved onto other schools? It was hugely rewarding to see that these schools continued to score highly in the ECERS evaluation this year, proving our model is valid and sustainable.