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OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

image of OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

This book finds that, in many ways, Northern Ireland stands out internationally with its thoughtfully designed evaluation and assessment framework. The major components are well developed, in particular policies for student assessment, school evaluation and school system evaluation. It has been developed using the majority of key design principles recommended by the OECD. The approach to evaluation and assessment combines: central control over policy development and standard setting; transparency over procedures and reporting of results; an increasing responsibility for the implementation of evaluation and assessment among teachers and schools; and central mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of implementation. For example, while schools and their Boards of Governors are accountable for their educational quality and are accountable to their communities, school development planning processes are also monitored as part of external school evaluation by a central inspectorate. Teachers play a central role in student assessment and their assessment of pupil progress against central standards is moderated by a central agency which engages working teachers in the process. Teachers in primary schools are offered central diagnostic tests to support their assessment of pupil progress. Only teacher appraisal remains entirely school based, but there is a set of common competence standards for teachers.

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Schooling in Northern Ireland

In 1999, policy and legislative responsibility for education was devolved from the United Kingdom government to a local Assembly in Northern Ireland. Nearly all pupils attend a public school, although the funding and management of these varies. Compared internationally, pupils perform well at the primary level and around average at the postprimary level, but there is a stronger link between schools’ socio-economic intake and pupil outcomes. Major policy developments include: new assessment arrangements to better fit the Northern Ireland curriculum; a mechanism to follow up the results of external school evaluation; a proposal to create a single authority to manage and support all public schools; and new rights for pupils to have access to a wide choice of general and applied subjects at post-primary level.

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