Setting the standard : a study into the improvement of performance indicators and benchmarks in Scottish FE
Performance information has featured in the reporting of Scottish Further Education college activity through annual reports and through college development plans to a limited extent in the 10 years since college incorporation (1993). There have been five key performance indicators used since 1990 for all of these functions, defined by the Scottish Office in "Measuring Up" (SOED, 1990). Phase 1 of this study was a review of whether the performance indicators used were valid and reliable, and how well understood the information was within colleges. Phase 2 looked at reasons behind the difficulties and explored approaches to deal with them. Phase 3 described the production of training materials to support changes in practice and Phase 4 discussed the extension of the use of standards to ICT support work. The stronger theoretical model reflecting on the reported experiences of other countries and other sectors was the subject of the literature review. This study investigated the understanding of performance indicators, identified short term changes needed, proposed short term revisions, and outlined issues for further consideration in the longer term development of performance indicators and benchmarks. In addition, a set of standards for quality improvement for the support area of ICT was developed using self evaluation approaches. This study demonstrated that there were problems of reliability and validity in collecting and using performance indicators. These differing interpretations of the performance indicators were evident within institutions, across institutions, and across years. In addition, the performance indicator information was not soundly embedded in a clear theoretical model of quality.