A long while back (somewhen in the 1980s I think), Jordanhill Teacher Training College* in Glasgow did an evaluation of some competency-related programme or other (the details of which escape me). The providers of the programme identified what they claimed were 3 increasingly complex outcomes:
- Can make a cup of tea
- Can write a letter
- Can deal with any eventuality
The evaluators noted drily that this went from Brooke Bond to Basildon Bond to James Bond** in 2 easy steps.
I was reminded of this during an exchange with a colleague about a contemporary evaluation of ESD provision in a western EU country. In this, the evaluators were required to report using two categories, classifying work on ESD as either: [i] well-developed; or [ii] in need of development.
This seemed to me to be a rather limited set of alternatives. In particular, ‘in need of development’ has to be a very broad category ranging from ‘have really not done very much (if anything)’, through 'has made a good start', to ‘is developing well, but still a lot of room for improvement’.
My colleague agreed but say that their team had been over-ruled by those paying for the evaluation who wanted it to "be supportive". In other words, prizes for everyone irrespective of actual merit. But evaluations are supposed to send accurate signals, not to make everyone happy, so there is something quite wrong here.
- The College existed for some 80 years (1913-1993) before being absorbed with the University of Strathclyde. It was well-known, internationally, for its interest in (and training teachers for) environmental education.
- Brooke Bond is a brand-name of tea owned by Unilever, Basildon Bond is a brand of personal note paper, and James Bond is still keeping the UK safe from bad guys of all kinds ...