Research Basis & Purpose:
The Educational Effectiveness Suite (ESS) of research instruments were designed to solicit feedback from school staff, parents/guardians, and students regarding the organizational effectiveness of their school. The output is designed to be used formatively as baseline or progress monitoring information and to provide one of several measures of school and system effectiveness. Unlike most “school quality” measures, the EES brings together the leading private sector research in effective organizations together with research into effective schools. In Washington, the framework for effective schools is the Nine Characteristics of High Performing Schools which was developed with business leaders, school and district leaders, parents, and researchers. The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) itself was formed by bringing together expertise in the private sector and expertise in education with a focus on teaching and learning.
The EES is not intended to be an end-all be-all tool. A business executive would not make critical strategy decisions purely on one instance of survey data – nor should the school make critical decisions based solely on the EES results. A business executive would use multiple sources of information including customer usage surveys, market demand surveys, focus groups, interviews, case-studies with users, and sales/business outcomes (revenue, net income, market share, ROI, etc). Using multiple measures with multiple data acquisition techniques is a widely accepted best practice in both the private and public sectors. For schools and districts, the EES is designed to be one of those measures.
The research frame for this is not an individual teacher but rather teachers (plural) and moreover, the building as a system (unit of change). If the instrument was designed to provide feedback into teacher evaluation it would be designed very differently. The scale (almost always true, often true, etc) is very consciously used and based on significant organizational effectiveness research. The critical data is frequency of behavior (or perception of attitudes). The Almost-always true scale is well suited to this frequency measure and has been demonstrated to provided reliable and valid results. The items on the survey roll-up into scales—such as “effective leadership” or “High expectations and standards”. These scales have shown to be extremely reliable and strongly correlated with student outcomes.
It is unfortunate that you felt there might be punitive or evaluative consequences in answering the survey items. Perhaps the purpose of the survey could have been communicated more clearly to you. CEE believes strongly that the punitive labeling of schools in the current culture of education reform is detrimental to long-term systemic change. Bainbridge School District has long been one of the premier districts in the state in both student outcomes and the effectiveness of the adult educators. As the chairman of YMCA of America frequently notes, Success without Feedback is an Accident. The EES surveys are one of those elements of feedback.
Usage and Investment:
The EES suite of tools are the most widely used school effectiveness survey instruments. Over the last 13 years, over 750,000 staff, students, and parents have used this instrument in the western U.S. Because research and “using the data” are core values of CEE, we make this data-repository available to doctoral students for dissertation research (3 currently underway). We invest heavily in bring in new or updated research into the instrument, always seeking to improve its validity and reliability. While we invest in the tools, we also realize the fiscal pressures districts and schools are under. CEE tools and services are priced well under most alternatives available, and as our volume and efficiencies-of-scale have increased, we have adjusted our prices down to reflect these changes. Over the last 13 years, the cost per respondent and cost per school have gone down each year.
Mercer Island connection:
In 2009, after years of using external and internally developed surveys which proved to be unreliable and not based on up to date effective organizational research, Mercer Island School District (MISD) partnered with CEE and for the last 4 years has exclusively used the EES-Staff, EES-Student, and EES-Parent instruments. We work closely with the school board, district leadership, and building staff in this process and all data is transparently published to the MISD web sites for the entire community to view. Leadership and the Board felt that the CEE tools fully met their needs for measuring progress toward their strategic plan (what they call their Vision 2020 plan). CEE has developed custom dashboards of the results for MISD , which provide aggregate information to multiple levels of the Mercer Island system – from the Board, the Superintendent, and the Building level.
CEE’s portfolio of partner districts includes the highest performing and highest improving districts and schools in the state, as well as schools and systems struggling to reach levels of performance and improvement seen in Bainbridge Island.