You suggest that although what is to be learned is open to debate, the first component of the system is strategic alignment in which stakeholders reach consensus on the system's goals. I wonder if such consensus is ever possible. Historical and contemporary practices of schooling show the radical instability of definitions of the purposes of education and the ongoing shifts and uneasy compromises that constitute school practices. This perpetual change leads me to wonder if alignment can only be first in the system. Because goals shift, they can never be thought of as final, but must be continually renegotiated. In addition, as goals are enacted in the subsequent components of the system, they are mediated--altered--in ways that cannot be predicted. Communities, administrators, teachers, and students themselves play a part in redefining the workings of the system, and thus of the nature of student learning. These changes suggest that perhaps evaluation might engage not only the improvement of efforts (i.e., maintaining efficiency and cohesiveness in the system) but also the appropriateness of the goals that have been decided. -S.T.

Steve Responds:
You make a good point that I left out of the paper. One key factor of the systemic view of Education is that the action of any one component of a system influences the actions of every other component of the system. A successful system must be continuously adapting to its environment. That is the reason that the model is arranged in a circle. The process of defining, implementing, evaluating, and revising is continuous. Inputs from the stakeholders reflect the environment in which the model operates. Hopefully the vision, mission, and goals of the model are broad and robust enough to endure small changes in attitudes in society. ( Given the difficulty of reaching consensus, see my response to Collin's comment, one would hope that they are.) But should there be a sufficient shift in societal ideas, then a major revision of the goals, mission and vision must occur. The evaluation component of the model should provide information about whether this major revision should happen.