How can CBSE school principals use the SQAA Framework for self-assessment?
In a landmark move earlier this year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued Circular 14/2023, mandating all affiliated CBSE schools to undergo a self-assessment against the School Quality Assessment and Assurance (SQAA) Framework. This initiative represents a significant step toward improving the governance and overall quality of CBSE schools. However, many school leaders are either unaware of the SQAA Framework or find it to be a complex and daunting document. In this blog post, we will delve into the SQAA Framework and offer guidance on how CBSE school principals can effectively use it for self-assessment.
The SQAA Framework is a comprehensive and detailed document that consists of seven domains, 49 sub-domains, 84 benchmarks, and more than 2500 expectations. While it may seem overwhelming at first glance, we believe that understanding the framework's four levels can simplify the self-assessment process and prevent schools from feeling bogged down by its complexity.
At the Inceptive Level, each individual in the school works in isolation, following practices that are predominantly individual-based. While there may be pockets of excellence, they often remain isolated, lacking coordination among staff members. Even though aspects like collaborative learning and art integration might be sporadically visible in classrooms, they are often done as token gestures rather than with a genuine intent for student learning. Principals at this stage may have limited awareness of what is happening in classrooms. Let's take staff meetings as an example: at the Inceptive Level, staff meetings are infrequent and occur only before events or examinations. The principal might assign responsibilities individually, and there is little coordination or feedback.
As schools transition to the Transient Level, leadership takes small steps toward introducing some order into the system. Solutions to problems are found but are often short-lived because they are based on personal feelings or moods rather than well-defined policies. This stage can be characterised by principals avoiding problems rather than focusing on improving the quality of education. For example, staff meetings at this stage are called primarily to address problems or complaints. The school leader dictates solutions, and there is limited participation from teachers.
As schools transition to this stage, there is increased coordination between school leadership and staff. Policies are developed, but they are predominantly corrective and preventive in nature. Actions are taken to correct deviations from these policies, but the primary goal remains problem avoidance rather than fostering a genuine learning environment. For example, at this stage, staff meetings are more structured, with defined agendas and minutes. Policies are in place, but deviations are corrected through punitive actions.
The highest stage of school development involves forward-thinking and proactive policies. Regulations are not only corrective but also preemptive, anticipating future challenges. The entire school community takes responsibility for student learning, and staff meetings become opportunities for learning and data-driven decision-making. For example, at this stage, staff meetings are opportunities for collaborative learning and data analysis. They focus on continuous improvement and feedback loops to enhance policies and practices.
While the SQAA Framework may appear complex on the surface, understanding the four levels of school development can provide clarity and direction for CBSE school principals during self-assessment. It's crucial to view the framework not as a checklist of benchmarks to meet but as a tool for transforming schools into dynamic, learning-focused organisations. By adopting a proactive and forward-thinking approach, CBSE schools can navigate the self-assessment process effectively and ultimately improve the quality of education they provide.