Based on a presentation by Barbara Watson of InspiredECE

Prior to attending this Professional Development session by Barbara Watson, I have to admit that I lacked a degree of enthusiasm. A while ago we teachers from my workplace had attended a session by a speaker from ERO who expanded on effective internal evaluation for improvement, to assess what is working and what is not. However, I have to say that I really enjoyed this session by Barbara Watson as she was concise and offered clarity into the process of internal evaluation and suggestions on how it can be implemented.

The speaker introduced herself and enquired if we were aware of the quality evaluation judgement rubric that was recently published by ERO that uses the indicators in Te Ara Poutama. She offered a short explanation as to how ERO judge ECE services based on them emerging, establishing, embedding, sustaining, and excelling in their evaluation and practice.

The purpose of internal evaluation is to reflect on practice, take a closer look at what one is doing, and over time, evaluate across all aspects of the service. She identified five key domains to help evaluate practice and these are identified by the learning conditions in the judgement rubric. These are the learner and their learning, collaborative professional learning, evaluation for improvement, leadership, and stewardship.

The speaker then discussed types of internal evaluation like strategic, regular, and emergent. The acknowledged five steps in an internal evaluation involve:
• Noticing – what we have seen.
• Investigating – what is happening now, gathering information through hard evidence and observations.
• Collaborative sense-making – what does the data that we have gathered tell us about our investigation? What does our curriculum and research tell us about the best outcome that we can achieve? Compare this best outcome to what our data indicate to make sense of it.
• Prioritising to take action – What do we need to do to change our practice towards achieving the ideal outcome?
• Evaluation – Are we noticing differences as we revisit after we have changed our practice? What can be strengthened? Take another look in six months time to make sure.

The speaker identified common shortcomings in an internal evaluation as:
• Not asking an evaluative question.
• Not using the right tools to gather data.
• Not keeping a focus on the question or gathering too much data.
• Not analysing data in a scientific way, based on one’s own bias.
• Not identifying clear ‘measuring sticks’.
• Not evaluating outcomes.
• Not working collaboratively.

In conclusion, the steps towards an effective internal evaluation were discussed by the speaker with examples across each step. She offered a broad clear picture on the process of an evaluation and why taking certain steps before looking into research-based evidence was so important. The key to it all was the question set for the evaluation and her suggestion was to keep it in focus by having a clear and concise question.

The speaker suggested that there was a tendency to complete an evaluation with a biased frame of mind with a conclusion suiting one’s preconceived notions. This concept defeated the very purpose of an internal evaluation as the question itself suggests that kaiako are looking to improve practice and highlighting areas that can be improved upon as effective practice rather than arriving at a foregone conclusion.


“Internal evaluation considers how effectively the service is providing for the strengths, interests and needs of all children and how their learning is progressing. It may focus on the teaching and learning programme, the service’s priorities for learning, or other elements of the ECE service directly impacting on learning and teaching. Kaiako discuss, reflect upon and evaluate how effectively their curriculum planning and implementation is supporting children’s learning interests and progress” (Ministry of Education, p. 65, 2017).


Akarangi: Quality Evaluation Judgement Rubric. ERO, 2020.
Ministry of Education–Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga. (2017). Te whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum.
Notes taken by Glenda Ensor-Smith and Natalie Ivatt
Te Ara Poutama. ERO, 2020.