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METAPHORS OF EVALUATION – HOW SCHOOL LEADERS UNDERSTAND EVALUATION IN SCHOOLS

R. Dorczak, G. Mazurkiewicz

Jagiellonian University, Institute of Public Affairs (POLAND)
Reform of the school inspection system in Poland started in 2009 introducing the idea of evaluation to Polish schools. Three years of experience with that new approach to school inspection shows that still there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding concerning the evaluation process.
One of the possible explanations for those misunderstandings concerning evaluation in education is the communication process in which different actors use different meanings of basic concepts used. Authors of this paper suggest that it is worthy to take closer look at school headteachers’ beliefs and assumption possible to uncover through metaphors used for description of evaluation.
Those metaphors reflect and determine their style of thinking which influences both the evaluation process and school development based upon evaluation results.
Metaphors help to explore unknown areas. At the same time, the commonly accepted metaphor describes and creates reality.
It would be also useful to convince school headteachers to reflect on their own metaphors of evaluation to uncover how they create their own school reality and how they approach the evaluation process. Understanding that issue, can be an important factor in attempts to make evaluation work for the improvement of Polish educational institutions.
The paper presents results of the research carried out on the group of school heads from Polish schools. They were asked to finish simple sentence: Evaluation is like… On the basis of the headteachers’s answers, the authors built categories of metaphors used by heads of schools. Authors claim that by deconstructing used metaphors it is possible to understand the culture of a school that the person using the metaphor is working in. It then helps to understand the evaluation process in such a school, and through that, it is possible to better manage the evaluation and development processes.
Finally, the authors present some recommendations concerning possible ways of transforming school heads thinking that can support better the use of evaluation in Polish schools.