Real resultsReal results

The effectiveness of an anti-bullying approach is indicated by taking measurements of observable behaviours before and after implementation.

Why is it important to measure real results?
Change has to be measurable
Monitoring and measuring outcomes
Specifying your measures
Realistic timeframes for observing real results
Prompt questions

Why is it important to measure real results?

The only way to be sure that an anti-bullying approach is producing real results is to measure changes that are specified and monitored before implementation begins. Measuring at regular intervals is also necessary to ensure the approach is continuing to yield positive outcomes over time.

Although an approach may have a compelling 'feel good' factor, it may nevertheless have little sustained impact on student behaviour and school climate.

Believing that things are getting better and feeling positive are notoriously poor indicators that real change has occurred.

Change has to be measurable

Appropriate anti-bullying approaches should state which specific behaviours will change or what outcomes will be observable, and how schools can measure these.

For the purpose of providing evidence of real results, measures need to be observable behaviours or actions (e.g. school attendance, class participation, reports of bullying received).

Monitoring and measuring outcomes

High-quality anti-bullying approaches and programs guide schools in monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes.

Approaches that do not provide information related to the measurement of outcomes should be viewed with caution.

Schools will already have a range of relevant existing measurements they take throughout the year. The measures in the school audit which prompted the selection of the anti-bullying approach (e.g. the number of disciplinary actions related to bullying) might be suitable to monitor progress and measure outcomes.

Ideally, effectiveness can be monitored by the school's existing tools and data.

Some approaches provide or suggest additional measurement tools for more fine-grained or precise data on the progress as well as the outcomes. Schools need to consider the practical implications of any additional measurements or information gathering. Onerous monitoring may negatively impact on implementation.

Specifying your measures

The information collected by the school before beginning to examine the available anti-bullying approaches will suggest the specific measures to plan to collect. Examples of the sorts of specific measurable outcomes to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • reduction in the number of incidents of bullying or unexplained injury
  • reduction in the number of reports of suspected bullying
  • increased ratings of the perception of safety on student (and staff) surveys
  • increased student attendance (due to students feeling confident to attend school without fear of bullying)
  • improved scores on tests of student knowledge and skills on how to deal with bullying
  • student-determined outcomes
  • specific learning outcomes if relevant (e.g. number of assignments completed, scores on general assessments, knowledge of content covered in anti-bullying activities).

The school may also have a goal of enhanced student engagement, or improved school climate. These are desirable outcomes, but they are not directly observable, 'specific' and 'measurable'. It is also difficult to attribute a change in 'student engagement' to an individual anti-bullying approach on its own.

Involving students in selecting the outcomes to measure is an excellent way to engage them in the process of change.

It is worth noting that some things that can be measured are not outcomes, but are part of the process of implementation. For example, the number of students who participate in lessons on bullying, the number of staff who adopt strategies recommended by the approach, or the number of information brochures provided to parents and carers are measures of the work done to get to the result. They are not measures of measurable change and real results.

Realistic timeframes for observing real results

The process of positively and sustainably impacting on school culture and the way individuals (students, staff and parents) behave in the school environment necessarily takes time. Having realistic expectations about this timeframe is essential.

Depending on your goals, the period over which to expect to see real results will vary. For example, a school might expect to see fewer reports of bullying within a few months, while improved learning outcomes may take two years to become evident. ​

As measurable and real results may not be observed for some time, measurement of small steps or trends toward the overall outcomes may be useful to consider.

Realistic expectations about when to expect to see outcomes will help members of the school community to sustain the energy and momentum for the necessary duration.

Prompt questions for Real results

Key question: Does the approach indicate how outcomes will be measured and timeframes within which to expect to see results?

To ask about the approach

  • How are outcomes measured and how do they link to the stated aim of the approach?
  • Are resources (tools) or guidance provided for measuring progress and effectiveness of the approach and informing a cycle of continuous improvement?
  • Does the approach encourage student involvement in measuring outcomes?
  • What is the anticipated timeframe before the school should be able to see measurable change?
  • How will the school be able to demonstrate to the wider community that the approach has been successful?

To ask about your school

  • What existing school measures and data can we use to monitor progress and measure outcomes?
  • If additional measurement tools and methods are required, what impact could that have?
  • Can our school commit to this approach for the anticipated timeframes before we will see measurable and real results?
  • How and where will the school report and celebrate successful progress and outcomes?

Use the STEPS form for schools (PDF, 651KB) to record your answers.