The door of an open classroom in a town-school. Photo: Kalman.
A door of a classroom in a school which has been proved to be ready for changes on a high level, according to the results of REACH

REACH: Developing Assessment Tool on the Readiness for Change of Schools (from 2011, in progress)

In what extent are schools ready to change? This simple question arises many times, when someone intends to inform policy-makers so as to foster the implementation of innovations in the school system, or also when someone intends to provide specific schools with useful information for local improvement purposes.

In 2011 we developed, validated and piloted a self-efficacy scale specifically designed for schools (ISCED 1,2), in order to assess the extent of the readiness for change.

Our standards for the REACH self-efficacy scale were:

  • To be easy to fill in either by paper or on-line
  • Not to last longer than 10 minutes to fill in
  • To target openness
  • To be suitable for anyone in a professional staff of a school
  • To be suitable for assessing the school as an organization (rather than individuals) through gathering data from the majority of the teaching staff
  • To be valid and reliable
  • To be internationally comparative

Research Methods and Sample

Based on the literature and suggestions of research advisors, we drafted 109 items. A large number of the items were adapted from other research papers with modifications, using resources from different countries.

The data gathering was made through controlled, quality-assured processes, in the early 2012. The data gathering involved more than 300 schools, 639 persons. 11 schools participated with their whole (or almost whole) teaching staff. The research was conducted in Hungary, and the language we used was Hungarian, too.

Cronbach-alfa and convergent validity were calculated, and face-validity was also examined. I also conducted factor-analysis and principal component analysis. Finally, I choose 12 items from the original 109 items which were proved to satisfy our preliminary criterias.

Main Results

Though the research is in progress, some standards has already been accomplished, e.g. reaching high level of validity and good reliability of the scale. According to the results of the factor- and principal component analyses, the scale can provide information from three aspects:

  • The individual's perception on his/her impact on the readiness for change of the school.
  • The individual's self-efficacy on bringing his/her personal changes into effect.
  • The individual's perception that in what extent he/she is able to spread changes within the community of the teaching staff.

Since the project is in progress and the results are not published, the main results written above can be subject to modification or complement.

The scale needs further investigations and development. However, at this stage of the project we already have a validated self-efficacy scale to measure the openness, readiness to change of schools, which - with some restrictions - can already been used for research and assessment purposes.

For further information you can:

Leader of the project: Kalman Bekesi. Co-researcher: Sandor Rozsa, Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Faculty of Education and Psychology. Many thanks to Laszlo Bernath, Gabor Halasz, Judit Lukacs, Erika Garami and Matild Sagi for their professional contribution to the project.

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The books on the principal's 'main' shelf are mostly about management and efficiency in a best practice town school. This is much different from schools not using evidence, where found that the contents of books on the principals' shelves are mainly about curriculum, teaching methods and the national regulation of the education system.
The books on the principal's 'main' shelf are mostly about management and efficiency in a best practice town school. We found that in schools which use evidence infrequently, books on the same shelf are mainly about curriculum, teaching methods and the national regulation of the education system.

Evidence-informed School Improvement in Hungary, 2009-2012 (with some comparative studies from the EU)

Who do use evidence on school and local level? What kind of evidence do they use? In which phases of improvement, innovation? With an excellent group of researchers with great school-development and research experience we investigated the links between available data, information, evidence and decisions on improvement of schools. We conducted our research on two levels: school and local education policy-making.

Research Methods and Sample

Mixed methodology were employed in this project. We did interviews, observations of classrooms and school meetings, surveys and document analyses. We also used the pilot version of the Readiness for Change (REACH) validated scale (see above). The sample was not intended to be representative, but we intended to cover the geographical area (within 20 minutes of travelling) of those 5 schools in which we conducted intense field work for 2-5 days. Finally more than 100 schools were involved in the research. We investigated two areas from the capital, one from a large town and two schools from the countryside. We also conducted international evidence from Finland and Belgium. We choose ISCED 1,2 schools, providing elementary education for grades 1-8th.

Main Results

  • In Hungary possibly there is almost no direct linkage between research evidence and practice, although research results are present in schools by multi-step, often informal and not planned mediating processes.
  • On the other hand we have found excellent examples for using the best available evidence, which includes evidence from external evaluations, school-level measurement systems, quality-management systems of schools, local pedagogical experiments and some research results.
  • In certain cases the school itself can become an evidence producer.
  • Being an evidence-based or evidence-informed school and/or local authority depends rather on groups and culture than on single persons.
  • Instead of single processes we found that the whole school as an organization, system can be the key of evidence-informed school improvement. We found in Hungary the quality management system of the school to be the most important factor in the visited schools.
  • Using evidence in the school or by the local policy-makers does not directly or inevitably leads to improvements, innovation.
  • "Using evidence" in innovative schools means constructing locally applicable knowledge based on, or informed by a mass of evidence.
  • Key concepts for understanding the use of evidence in successful schools have been proved to be:
    • Learning organization
    • Quality management of school
    • Team-work and cooperation of staff members
    • Remunerating achievement
    • Support teachers initiations
    • Strategic thinking and shared visions
    • Distributive leadership

For more information you can:

I co-lead this project from 2009 to 2011 and helped the dissemination up to the beginning of 2012. It was run under the Social Renewal Operational Programme (TáMOP) 3.1.1 which was fund by the EU, in the Hungarian Institute for Education Research and Development (HIERD), Department of Research. Co-researchers were Rapos, Nora and Lenard, Sandor. Special thanks to prof. Halasz, Gabor and Balazs, Eva for their professional support. Many thanks to the researchers of the Department of Research, HIERD, for the inspiring discussions.

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