Philip Holmes-Smith is the creative mind behind the SPAplatform. He spent the first 10 years of his working life as a secondary teacher before becoming an educational research officer in Victoria’s Department of Education. For the last 16 years, through his company SREAMS, Philip has been helping both primary and secondary teachers analyse, interpret and use performance data to inform their teaching and it is this practical experience that has informed the development of SPA.
His current interests lie in the areas of teacher effectiveness and school improvement, accountability and benchmarking, national achievement testing programs, research related to students at educational risk, resource allocation modeling for school and early childhood systems and the teaching of Structural Equation Modeling.
Philip initially trained as a secondary teacher completing a Bachelor of Science (Education) degree at The University of Melbourne and between 1977 and 1985 he taught Science, Biology and Mathematics in Victorian government secondary schools and was a program consultant within Victoria’s Disadvantaged Schools Program.
During this time he also completed a Graduate Diploma in Curriculum Administration with major studies in Program Evaluation and consequently, in late 1985, he obtained a position as a Policy Officer (Evaluation) with the Curriculum Branch of the Victorian Education Department where he conducted numerous program evaluations and provided program advice to curriculum developers. During this time he also completed a Master of Education degree at The University of Melbourne majoring in Educational Policy and Planning.
In late 1988 he was awarded a Fellowship of Advanced Study from the Department of Education to commence doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While there he undertook numerous courses in statistics, qualitative and quantitative research methods, program evaluation, educational measurement and testing and educational policy studies. He also worked as a Research Associate with the Center for Instructional Research and Curriculum Evaluation (CIRCE) while undertaking his studies.
Philip then returned to the Victorian Department of Education at the beginning of 1991 and in 1992, together with Dr Ken Rowe, he commenced a large-scale, longitudinal study on school and teacher effectiveness. In 1993, Philip and Ken, together with Prof. Peter Hill took the study to The University of Melbourne (where they founded the Centre for Applied Educational Research) and continued to work on this project which looked at the measurement of student performance and the factors that contribute to student success – a project that has since had a large impact on school improvement initiatives around Australia.
In late 1994, Philip again returned to the Department of Education as Projects Director in the Strategic Planning division of the Department. While there he was responsible for numerous policy initiatives including the development and implementation of educational resource allocations to all government schools (School Global Budgeting); the psychometric analysis of Victoria’s state-wide English and Mathematics testing program for Year 3 and 5 students; and the development of benchmarks for both school-level and system-level student performance data as part of the Department's school accountability mechanism.
At the end of 1996 Philip left the Department of Education to begin SREAMS where he continues to be contracted to a number of State education departments and curriculum authorities in Australia to undertake educational research, curriculum evaluations, resource allocation modeling and psychometric analysis of state-wide/national
Philip is also an experienced lecturer of social science research methods and is a regular instructor at the Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Inc. (ACSPRI) programs where he has developed a reputation as being one of Australia’s premier teacher of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). He also regularly teaches both introductory and advanced SEM courses at numerous universities around Australia.