NEPC Review: On Her Majesty’s School Inspection Service (January 2012)
This descriptive work urges U.S. policymakers to consider the English system of school inspections as a way of expanding our understanding of student achievement. Such an innovation is timely, according to the report, because the No Child Left Behind legislation is coming up for reauthorization. Using data largely from the English Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), the report outlines the English system, including the rubrics it uses in judging teaching, some characteristics of its inspectors, and how much such a system might cost states in the United States. Readers should keep in mind that the report is an advocacy piece and not a research document. No research questions are posed, and few examples from the extensive literature on English school inspections are offered. Thus, the report does not include key research findings, be they supportive or critical, of the process or of the very concept of the inspection service. In order to make sound judgments, policymakers need clear information about alternative approaches, hence the possible attraction of publications such as the one reviewed here. Unfortunately, the potential for On Her Majesty’s School Inspection Service to provide such help is limited by its design as an advocacy piece.