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HOW SCHOOL INSPECTORS UNDERSTAND EVALUATION – MENTAL MODELS AS THE MAIN PROBLEM OF POLISH SCHOOL INSPECTION SYSTEM REFORM

R. Dorczak, G. Mazurkiewicz

Jagiellonian University (POLAND)
The reform of the school inspection system in Poland has introduced the idea of evaluation to Polish schools. Probably the most important element of that reform is the new system of training school inspectors responsible for the external evaluation of schools. More than three years of experience with that new training system shows that still there is a lot of confusion concerning the understanding of the evaluation process among school inspectors trained for evaluation system. The authors claim that this is the most important obstacle in promoting evaluation as a crucial element in the process of school development and the main reason for the mistakes and problems that the new school evaluation system is facing. The paper presents an attempt to describe different understandings of school evaluation among school inspectors and to show the impact that those understandings may have on the process of the introduction of evaluation to the Polish school system. To find out what is the understanding of evaluation, the authors used the concept of metaphor, assuming that metaphors can help to explore unknown understandings better than more traditional methods. School inspectors trained to serve the role of ‘evaluators’ within the new inspection system were asked to finish in a few words the sentence: Evaluation is like…. The metaphors used by inspectors were then categorized and thinking about evaluation connected with certain types of metaphors was characterized. The paper gives deeper description of those different understandings, trying at the same time to show how they can influence practice of evaluators during external evaluation process that takes part in schools. The authors claim that good understanding of different ways of thinking about evaluation gained through analysis of metaphors used by inspectors can be a very good basis for drawing some recommendations for those responsible for the system of training inspectors for evaluation as well as for policy makers responsible for changes in the school inspection system in Poland and in other countries.