Foreword

There are many minds and hearts involved in designing and delivering Flemish education – and yet more who have passionate opinions on how children and young people should benefit from this. This OECD case study finds that a shared concern binds them together: how can we improve the quality of education? It is a pivotal moment in Flemish education, with plans to introduce standardised tests in primary and secondary schools over the coming years. The OECD Strategic education governance team was invited to consult with stakeholders and provide analysis against its research-based framework on whether and how the introduction of standardised tests could best support this collective aim to improve the quality of education.

OECD work on strategic education governance supports countries in identifying the best ways to achieve national objectives for education systems in a context of multi-level governance structures and complex environments. Informed by empirical research, the strategic education governance framework can help policy makers bring effective governance processes onto the political agenda. It identifies and promotes six interrelated domains that collectively promote more effective governance processes: accountability, capacity, knowledge governance, stakeholder involvement, strategic thinking and a whole-of-system perspective. In each domain, research underpins a set of core principles.

For strategic education governance case studies, the OECD develops questions linked to the core principles in each domain of the framework and/or gives emphasis to one particular domain. Case study questions are adapted to individual contexts and priorities, but anchored in the common research-based framework providing countries with a set of aspirational efforts for self-reflection. The OECD case study offers a common language to enable sharing of local practices and to promote dialogue among stakeholders.

Stakeholder involvement is a pillar of the strategic education governance framework. This OECD case study on the introduction of standardised tests in Flanders places the perceptions, hopes and concerns of key stakeholders at the centre of the analysis. It collects feedback from key stakeholders via a series of structured discussions and a stakeholder reflection seminar. Anchored in the strategic education governance framework, the OECD case study aims to gauge areas for further investigation and inform thinking about possible next practices. It is designed as a conversation starter on how to optimise the processes around the development of standardised tests.

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