copy the linklink copied!Chapter 3. Evaluation and assessment: Policy priorities and trends, 2008-19

This chapter identifies developments in policy priorities related to education evaluation and assessment between 2008 and 2019, both from the perspective of participating education systems in OECD member countries and non-member economies, and previous OECD country-based work. Such policy priorities, often shared by different education systems, include enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments; developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework; and addressing underbalanced or underdevelopment of system evaluation components, among others.

Taking a comparative approach, this chapter also analyses policy trends identified for evaluation and assessment between 2008 and 2019, providing evidence of progress or impact for a selection of policies.

    

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

copy the linklink copied!Highlights

  • This chapter analyses policy priorities and trends on education evaluation and assessment across participating education systems in terms of student assessment, teacher appraisal, school evaluation, as well as how these different components come together into a coherent evaluation and assessment framework.

  • The most frequently observed policy priorities related to evaluation and assessment between 2008 and 2019 were: achieving quality internal and external school evaluations; developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework; and addressing absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components. These three priorities were each identified in 25 education systems. Other priorities identified to a lesser extent included achieving quality and reliability of student assessment (identified in 15 education systems), as well as building assessment competencies among both teachers and school leaders (identified in 7 education systems), and establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms (also identified in 7 education systems).

  • The most frequently observed trends in policy developments related to evaluation and assessment between 2008 and 2019 were student assessment (structural changes, expansion of scope and digitalisation); teacher appraisal (reviewing encompassing mechanisms of teacher appraisal); school evaluation (developing internal, external or internal/external school evaluations); system evaluation (developing information systems for system evaluation); and evaluation frameworks (policies aiming for greater clarity and interconnections between evaluation and assessment frameworks).

copy the linklink copied!Setting the scene

Education evaluation and assessment refers to the co-ordinated arrangements that seek to provide information in a given system to support the improvement of student outcomes. These arrangements are like a global positioning system (GPS). They help the actors in an education system know if they are heading in the right direction, if the speed of progress is adequate, and alerts actors to possible pathways that could be taken to reach a desired destination.

As such, education systems need to design their evaluation and assessment components by reflecting carefully on their clarity, timeliness and usefulness. Clarity gives users indications of expectations, progress and alternatives. Timeliness facilitates change for improvement as evidence emerges. Usefulness helps to avoid information overload and overlapping and to identify those areas where improvement is most needed for the short, mid or longer term.

Building on previous OECD work, particularly the Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes, the Education Policy Outlook Analytical Framework focuses on five main evaluation and assessment components. These components are: student assessment; school evaluation; teacher appraisal; system evaluation; and evaluation and assessment frameworks (see Figure 3.1) (OECD, 2015[1]).

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Figure 3.1. Evaluation and assessment according to the Education Policy Outlook Framework
Figure 3.1. Evaluation and assessment according to the Education Policy Outlook Framework

Source: OECD (2015[1]), Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264225442-en.

The use of evaluation and assessment has been increasing across education systems. Among the main factors behind this is an increased demand for effectiveness, equity and quality in education. But there is also greater school autonomy, progress in information technology, and a greater aim to rely on evaluation results to make evidence-based decisions. These factors translate into specific challenges for policy making, such as the following (OECD, 2013[2]):

  • Greater sophistication of evaluation and assessment: With greater importance given to evaluation and assessment among OECD education systems, the number of instruments, coverage and their use has also been increasing. Although student assessment had been a common starting point, its focus became broader and more sophisticated to allow new types of measurements of quality at the school, sub-system, system or international levels, for example.

  • A more complex understanding of student learning: Students need to acquire other skills beyond knowledge in order to navigate a changing world. Education systems must rethink strategies and means to measure this broader range of skills (such as critical thinking, self-motivation, well-being or socialisation), and provide adequate and timely support according to students’ specific learning needs.

  • Expectations for greater efficiency: From the point of view of structures, challenges include taking a holistic approach to ensure synergies between the different evaluation and assessment instruments, and that these are implemented in a way that can effectively help the education system to approach its goals.

  • Need for stakeholder engagement and capacity building: As for other education efforts, stakeholders need to be engaged in the process in order to ensure the relevance of instruments, as well as clarity in terms of what is being implemented. The capacity of stakeholders to understand and use this information for effective improvement is essential. Students also need to have a voice in education improvement processes, as well as the capacity to assess their own learning.

With this framework as a basis, this chapter provides a comparative overview of the evolution of policy priorities related to evaluation and assessment as identified by the OECD in previous country-based work and as reported by participating education systems at different points between 2008 and 2019.

General principles of action, as identified by the OECD to support countries in tackling these priorities are then explored.

The chapter also analyses policy trends in over 80 education policy developments undertaken mainly between 2008 and 2019. Over half of the policies collected have been in place since at least 2014, offering evidence of progress or impact in most cases. Throughout this chapter, evidence of progress or impact is included, in order to assist the reader in analysing factors relevant to the implementation of these policies (also see Chapter 1 and the Reader’s Guide).

All of the policy reforms relating to evaluation and assessment and collected by the OECD are listed in the policy trends tables included in this chapter; more detailed descriptions of each of these policies and, where possible, their progress or impact, can be found in Chapter 8.

copy the linklink copied!Student assessment

Student assessments collect evidence of learning in planned and systematic ways, and in doing so, they establish levels of student learning. Student assessments can be implemented in the form of internal assessments (taking place within the school), external assessments (through standardised assessments), or a combination of both. They can also be summative, formative or diagnostic. Summative assessments, also known as assessment of learning, aim to summarise learning that has taken place, with possible formal consequences for the student (examinations). Formative assessments, also known as assessment for learning, identify aspects of learning as it happens in order to improve learning processes. Diagnostic assessments are a type of formative assessment used to define the adequate starting point of learning for students (OECD, 2013[2]).

Students and education systems can benefit significantly from these different types of evaluations. However, governments need to be careful when designing and implementing them, considering both their purpose and how they interact with other instruments within the education system. For example, international evidence shows that students in education systems with external assessments tend to score higher in international surveys. At the same time, the high stakes generally attached to external evaluations may cause distortions in the education process (e.g. curriculum narrowing, teaching to the test, rote learning) (OECD, 2013[2]).

Evidence from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 shows some trends in terms of types of assessments and their purpose. Teacher-developed tests are more commonly used to guide student learning and inform parents about student performance, as well as to make decisions about student retention and promotion, or group students for instructional purposes. Student standardised tests are more commonly used to monitor school progress from year to year or to compare performance with district or national performance. They are also widely used to guide student learning and inform parents. On average, high-stakes decisions and decisions on how to better teach students are based more frequently on teacher-developed tests, whereas standardised tests are more frequently used to compare school achievement against local, regional, national or international standards (OECD, 2016[3]) (see Figure 3.2).

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Figure 3.2. Purposes of assessments, PISA 2015
Figure 3.2. Purposes of assessments, PISA 2015

Source: Based on data from OECD (2016[3]), PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267510-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997341

At classroom level, recognition of the critical role of quality student assessment in the classroom appears to be growing. The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 found that, overall, a larger share of teachers in 2018 reported frequently using student assessment practices than in 2013. Furthermore, teachers in 2018 were much more likely to report having engaged in professional development related to student assessment practices in the 12 months prior to the survey than those asked in 2013: of 31 countries with a statistically significant observed change, 29 saw increased reports of participation.

However, trends in current practices reported by teachers suggest that increased attention for student assessment has not necessarily focused on the use of formative approaches. Although the most frequently employed assessment practice among teachers is to observe students working and provide immediate feedback, a practice considered more formative than summative, this was less common in 2018 than in 2013 in a significant number of TALIS participating countries. In contrast, TALIS results from 2013 and 2018 show a general trend towards increased use of written feedback and teachers administering their own tests, both of which are more summative forms of assessment. Students’ self-evaluation, a critical component of effective formative assessment was the least commonly used assessment practice among teachers in 2018 (OECD, 2019[4]).

Policy priorities

Enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments

A common policy priority identified both by the OECD and education systems refers to enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments. Important aspects related to this priority include their validation, being able to assess more complex skills or ensuring alignment with curriculum and learning standards. The OECD has pointed out that governments also need to manage detrimental effects that can emerge or potential sources of inequity (e.g. curriculum narrowing, teaching to the test or not taking students’ or schools’ backgrounds into consideration as part of the assessment). Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 15 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (10 education systems), by participating education systems (7 education systems), or both (2 education systems) (Figure 3.3).

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Figure 3.3. Enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments
Figure 3.3. Enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this policy priority for at least five education systems during the period 2008 to 2014: the Czech Republic, Mexico, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland). More recently, during 2015-19, it identified the same policy priority for another five education systems: Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom (England).

Common principles of action mentioned by the OECD in recommendations to these education systems include ensuring that objectives are pertinent to the needs of the system, and that there is consistency in the design of assessments.

For example, the OECD recommended in 2014 that the Slovak Republic collaboratively develop assessment criteria that demonstrate progression and could be integrated into the standards within the national education programmes. The OECD also recommended that besides matching the curriculum, assessment criteria in the Slovak Republic should be compatible with existing national education programmes, and should provide sufficient detail to be clear and unambiguous, as well as easily accessible for teachers to integrate into their practice (Shewbridge et al., 2014[5]).

The capacity to develop longitudinal monitoring and provide attention to groups at risk of under-performing have also been identified as important principles of action, particularly to avoid sources of inequity. In 2016, the OECD recommended that Denmark remain particularly attentive to potential groups at risk of underperformance (Nusche et al., 2016[6]). The Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and Slovenia all reported enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessment to the OECD as a policy priority that emerged during 2015-19. In response, in Italy, regulations introduced in 2017 regarding student assessment aimed to introduce important changes in the final examinations administered in lower and upper secondary education.

Building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders

Another policy priority related to student assessment relates to building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders. This complex area includes strengthening formative assessment and classroom-based assessment in general, or minimising inequities in grading. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 7 education systems, all through the OECD’s previous country-based work. No participating education systems reported this as a priority (Figure 3.4).

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Figure 3.4. Building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders
Figure 3.4. Building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this policy priority for at least seven participating education systems. Between 2008 and 2014 it was identified as a priority for the Czech Republic, Denmark, Mexico, Portugal and the Slovak Republic. Between 2015 and 2019, the OECD identified it in work with Colombia. The OECD identified this as a priority in Sweden both before and after 2014.

To support education systems to address this policy priority, the OECD has proposed principles of action focused on providing training and support, including developing tools that can help teachers capture more complex cognitive processes, and to provide support in moderating grading. A strong component of this area of capacity building also relates to how teaching staff in schools can help students improve their capacity for self-assessment so they can become the motors of their own learning.

The OECD has proposed different pathways to help strengthen teachers’ classroom-based assessments, for example, in Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic. In 2011, the OECD recommended that Denmark actively involve teachers in developing data-driven professional learning communities focused on the use of assessment data in non-threatening ways, so that teachers could develop assessment competencies (Shewbridge et al., 2011[7]). Likewise, the OECD advised the Swedish government to help build teachers’ assessment capacities in order to achieve greater consistency, comparability and equity among teacher-based assessments. The OECD then proposed that this could be achieved through the combined supports of external moderation (such as through a second teacher grading, employing professionals, or introducing a checking procedure by a competent authority or examination board), among other possible tools (Nusche et al., 2011[8]). Moderation, both within and across schools, was also proposed to the Czech Republic, to improve the reliability of teacher-based assessment. The OECD recommended it alongside the development of national guidelines for assessing students against learning objectives (Santiago et al., 2012[9]).

In the same way, the OECD has also focused on strengthening assessment competencies as a shared effort that should actively involve students, parents and communities. The OECD recommended that Portugal and the Slovak Republic fully engage students in the learning process and encourage them to take full responsibility for their learning. Proposed ways of doing this include clearly communicating the goals set for their learning, discussing assessment responses to help develop their knowledge and understanding of how to improve and inviting them to contribute to the planning and organisation of lessons (Santiago et al., 2012[10]; Shewbridge et al., 2014[5]). No participating education systems reported specific priorities relating to building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders. This is interesting given the critical role of teachers and school leaders in using evidence garnered from student assessment to enhance learning outcomes.

Policy trends

Policy reforms undertaken between 2008 and 2019 and collected for this report have focused on structural changes of student assessments, expanding the scope of assessments to capture more complex learning processes and aspects related to the digitalisation of student assessments. Analysis of these reforms suggests some continuity concerning the policy trends identified in 2015. Digitalising assessment processes is a new trend for this report, however, indicating education systems’ efforts to harness technology to improve educational outcomes (Table 3.1).

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Table 3.1. Policies on student assessment, 2008-19

Student assessment

Structural changes

Broader scope

Digitalisation

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Austria: New standardised and competency-oriented Matura examinations (2014/15; 2015/16)

Austria: Education Compass (2015)

Iceland: Digitisation of students’ standardised tests (2016)

Belgium (Fr.): Declaration on Community Policy to strengthen assessment and guidance in higher education (2014-19)

Iceland: Extension of students’ standardised tests (2017)

Sweden: Digitised National Test for Years 3, 6 and 9 (2018)

Czech Republic: New unified entrance examination for upper secondary schools (2016)

Norway: New regulation added to the Education Act (2015) to clarify the relationship between formative and final assessments [*]

France: National assessments in mathematics and French in Grades 1, 2 and 6 (2018)

Ireland: Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) replaced the Junior Certificate (2015)

Italy: Revised regulations concerning student assessment for final examinations at lower and upper secondary education levels (Law 107/2017) (2017)

 

Kazakhstan: Modifications to the Unified National Testing (UNT) (2017)

 

Mexico: National Plan for Learning Assessment (PLANEA, 2015)- replaced previous school and student assessments

 

Mexico: New performance appraisal (2015-16) – part of Education Reform (2013)

Portugal: Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessment - Basic Education (2015) [*]

Slovak Republic: National Standardised Assessment (2015)

Spain: Royal Decree 5/2016 to establish diagnostic nature of student assessments and introduce sampling (2016)

Sweden: National system for assessing knowledge (2016) [*]

Turkey: Monitoring and Evaluation of Academic Skills (ABIDE, 2016)

United Kingdom (England): Primary and secondary school accountability measures (2015; 2016)

United Kingdom (Scotland): Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels reporting (2016)

United Kingdom (Scotland): National Standardised Assessments (2018)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Belgium (Fr.): Certification of knowledge, professional competencies and skills by units (CPU, 2013)

Belgium (Fr.): Legally mandated formative assessment in schools (2016)

Australia: National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (2008)

Belgium: (Fr.): Draft decree on external evaluations of student learning (2016)

Korea: Test-free semesters (2013) [*]

Canada (Alberta): Student Learning Assessments (SLAs) replaced the existing Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Tests (2013) [*]

Czech Republic: Full-cohort national standardised tests at Grades 5 and 9 (2011) in the curricular areas of the Czech language, foreign languages and mathematics

Spain: PISA for Schools (2014)

Canada: Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (2007); digitalisation (2019)

New Zealand: National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (2012)

Denmark: Individual mandatory student plans (2006)

United Kingdom (N. Ireland): New assessment arrangements in 2012/13

 

Slovak Republic: Increasing quality of primary and secondary education with the use of electronic testing (20013-15)

 

Slovak Republic: National standardised assessments (2005-15); National project for the digitisation of assessments (2013-15)

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

Furthermore, it appears that policy makers are putting increased attention on student assessment, as more activity was reported for this area between 2015 and 2019 than had been reported for 2008-14. However, the more recently implemented policy developments collected for student assessments focus on structural changes. In general, policy efforts collected by the OECD from education systems appear much more focused on the design of student assessments, than on building capacity among school staff to use these instruments effectively, which corresponds to findings presented earlier on priorities.

Analysing the progress or impact of the policies related to student assessment collected for this report, it is clear that a growing number of education systems are steadily moving towards improvement-focused approaches. However, many of these policies have undergone multiple changes since their introduction. For example, in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, the governments have introduced multiple modifications to new assessment arrangements in response to reactions from key stakeholders. Other modifications include adding new assessment years or subjects and introducing new guidelines and procedures for teachers.

Furthermore, as Table 3.1 shows, while there is a significant amount of recent policy work in this area, the number of older policies that are still in place is relatively small. Overall, this suggests a lack of stability in this area of education policy, which risks placing undue pressure on the teachers and school leaders who are implementing the changes to student assessment. This is exacerbated by the fact that capacity building is rarely an explicit feature of implementation, as borne out by the evidence collected for the policies covered in this report.

Structural change

Some participating education systems made important changes to their external student assessment systems. These changes can refer, for example, to the creation of new systems, modifications to existing instruments in terms of the years assessed or even new considerations on how external student assessments should take place and how families and schools should be informed of student outcomes.

Newly designed assessment systems have been introduced in Austria, Mexico and Sweden. At the school level, the new Matura examinations introduced in Austria from 2014 are competency-oriented and include standardised and non-standardised components that can be applied depending on the specific focus of the school. In the academic year 2015/16, Mexico replaced its former external student assessment instruments with the National Plan for Learning Assessment (PLANEA), which aims to provide information on student learning at the student, school and system levels. Furthermore, in 2016, Sweden made significant revisions and adjustments to the national system for assessing knowledge to establish a three-part system comprised of tests, assessment support materials and knowledge evaluation.

Other systems have made changes to existing systems and instruments, for example, in terms of years assessed, accountability measures or other aspects related to design. From 2015, Portugal discontinued national tests administered in Grades 4 and 6 in order to align more closely with practices in the majority of European countries. Kazakhstan split its Unified National Assessment Test into two in 2017 in order to administer it at the end of school, and for admission into university and state grant distribution. In the United Kingdom, England introduced new accountability measures for primary and secondary education that aim to measure both performance and progress in student learning.

A few education systems have implemented reforms to improve how different actors use student assessment results to promote improvement across the system, or how student assessments and examinations take place. For example, the French Community of Belgium adopted a draft decree in 2016 amending the external evaluation of student learning, which specifies the general framework and conditions for external evaluation, from design to administration. Likewise, Portugal’s Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessments includes a premise highlighting the importance of ensuring that the information returned to schools, families and other stakeholders is of high quality and pertinent. This is more conducive to creating opportunities for concerted action and building trust in the system.

Policy focus

  • Portugal’s Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessments - Basic Education (Modelo Integrado de Avaliação Externa das Aprendizagens no Ensino Básico, 2015-16), introduced national assessments in Grades 2, 5 and 8, and a national examination in Grade 9, at the end of basic education (primary and lower secondary). The model is based on a clear set of premises: 1) the aim is to improve student learning and academic success; 2) continuous assessment should be the main instrument of internal school evaluation with external evaluation used to enhance approaches to assessment applied within the school; 3) external assessment focused on only a few disciplines leads to an impression of curricular narrowing among teachers and families; and 4) there should be a strong commitment to the quality and pertinence of the information returned to schools, families and other stakeholders in order to create opportunity for more concerted action and build trust in the system (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: The introduction of the Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessments signalled a move away from high-stakes testing in basic education in Portugal. Previously, Portugal had national examinations for Grades 4 and 6 of basic education (2011/12). These provided the basis for assessing and monitoring learning progress and replaced the National Monitoring Educational Progress Test (2001). The tests for Grades 4 and 6 were discontinued as this type of early examination was found to be dissonant with practice in the majority of European countries.

The first implementation round of the Comprehensive Model took place in a number of schools in 2016 (EC, 2016[11]). Results of the assessments have no impact on final grades; instead, schools and families use them to improve understanding of the students’ learning processes and to target teaching and support to reduce school failure. Oral communication skills are also assessed (EC, 2016[11]).

  • In Sweden, in 2016, the Inquiry on National Tests published a report (Likvärdigt, rättssäkert och effektivt – ett nytt nationellt system för kunskapsbedömning, 2016) proposing significant revisions and modifications to the national system for assessing knowledge in Sweden, consisting of three components: tests, assessment support materials and knowledge evaluation. According to the proposal, the National Agency for Education will be given an overall remit to develop the three components. This includes disseminating information about the new system and its various components and providing relevant training (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: National tests have been administered at the end of compulsory education and at upper secondary level for many years. In 2012, national tests at primary level were moved from Grade 5 to Grade 6. National tests were introduced for Grade 3 in 2009, covering mathematics, Swedish and Swedish as a second language, in order to identify those students requiring special support (European Commission, 2016[12]). As of 2016, it is compulsory to use the National Assessment support material made available for the teaching of Swedish, Swedish as a second language and mathematics in Grade 1.

In 2017, the government put forward a Proposal to the Swedish Parliament under the title National Test – Fair, Equal, Digital (Nationella prov – rättvisa, likvärdiga, digitala) (Regeringen, 2017[13]). This states that in accordance with assessment results certain regulatory changes are necessary to increase the equitability and legal certainty of the national support for knowledge assessment and grading. Proposed changes included: clarifying the purpose of national examinations and national assessment supports; assigning special significance to national test results in grading, when applicable; anonymising student responses; and ensuring responses are marked by someone other than the students’ teacher.

The parliament endorsed the government's proposal, and the new legislation came into force in mid-2018. The Read-Write-Count guarantee for early intervention (Läsa, skriva, räkna – en garanti för tidiga stödinsatser, 2019) introduces mandatory evaluations of student’ reading, writing and mathematics skills at pre-school level, which are to be followed up with targeted intervention where needed.

Presently, mandatory national tests in mathematics and Swedish (including Swedish as a second language) are administered in Grades 3, 6 and 9 as well as tests for English in Grades 6 and 9 and both a science subject (biology, physics or chemistry) and a humanities subject (geography, history, religion or social sciences) in Grade 9. These tests support grading, except in Year 3, where the results support the assessment of achieved knowledge requirements. In upper secondary school, national tests are administered in different courses in mathematics, Swedish (including Swedish as a second language) and English, of which some are mandatory depending on which national programme the student is studying. The same tests are administered in adult education at the upper secondary level.

Broader scope

The OECD has also collected policies more directly aimed at strengthening the role of formative assessment in schools. For example, in the French Community of Belgium, formative student assessment is legally mandated as an effort to signal its importance within the education system. Norway has also introduced regulations that aim to clarify the importance of formative assessment; these also aim to take into consideration learning that occurs outside the classroom. Meanwhile, Korea’s test-free semesters, where student progress is measured exclusively through formative assessment, have extended their coverage since their introduction.

Governments have also made efforts to introduce assessment tools that capture a broader range of student learning outcomes and more clearly facilitate improved teaching and learning. At the level of early childhood education and care (ECEC), Austria introduced the Education Compass for children aged 3.5 years old, to record talent and development needs. Also, Spain is one of the 11 education systems to have participated in the OECD’s PISA for Schools programme. This project aims to measure students’ knowledge, skills and competencies, going beyond just mathematics, reading and science to capture a wider range of 21st-century skills, and also allows for comparisons of student performance with those of other schools and nations. This is intended to strengthen school-level improvements in student learning.

Policy focus

  • Korea selected 42 schools for the introduction of the test-free semester programme in 2013 (National information reported to the OECD). The aim was to reduce students’ stress from tests and help them engage in various activities, including career search and acquiring life values. In 2014/15, the programme opened up to any school that wanted to adopt the policy. Middle schools only have three national test subjects (Korean/Literature, English, Mathematics), and elementary schools no longer apply achievement tests. In addition, local education offices aim to create simpler academic evaluations. Student assessments are based on preparation, choice of courses, organisation of curriculum, their participation and predictions of the outcomes of their courses.

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Progress or impact: The programme covers an increasing number of middle schools from 25% in 2014 to 79% in 2015 (MoE and KEDI, 2017[14]). A 2014 survey found that student, parent and teacher satisfaction had increased. As of 2016, all middle schools had to adopt the programme with 100% coverage. The government also introduced the programme for lower secondary students in 2016 (MoE, 2018[15]). As of 2017, the programme extended to a test-free year for 7th graders. Also, pilot programmes started for 8th and 9th grade.

  • Norway has made efforts to strengthen assessment since the launch of its Knowledge Promotion Reform (Kunnskapsløftet, 2006), which is a curriculum complementing the National Quality Assessment System (NKVS, 2004). It aims to support effective evaluation and assessment practices in schools. Also, the Assessment for Learning (2010-14) intended to improve formative assessments and support systematic reflection about schools, development of their assessment practices, networking of schools and professional development. This programme is built on a similar initiative that ran from 2007 to 2009.

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Progress or impact: The Knowledge Promotion Reform is currently under review (UDIR, 2018[16]). Until 2020, the following curricula development plan is set out. The core elements that students need to learn in each subject were developed in 2017/18. As of 2018/19, the new curriculum is under development. For example, in 2018, teacher groups worked to develop curricula for individual subjects and requested input on the first draft during an open consultation process. In 2019/20, schools will prepare for the new curriculum to be applied from 2020 onwards. The new curricula will be rolled out step-by-step from 2020 to 2023.

Regarding the Assessment for Learning programme, just over 40% of the municipalities (184 out of 428) have participated in the programme to date. A preliminary study for an OECD review found that success in implementation was often due to clearly set objectives, good communication, and trust among those actors involved, as well as capacity building for smaller municipalities. Further recommendations have been developed (UDIR, 2018[16]).

Digitalisation of student assessments

Digitalisation can help provide information on student learning to teachers and schools within a shorter timeframe. Education systems such as Canada and the Slovak Republic have been undertaking efforts to digitise student assessments. In Canada, the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) will be an online assessment from 2019. Also, in Canada, Alberta has been introducing a digitally based Student Learning Assessment for Grade 3 students. Australia, through its National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), has aimed to ensure that all students involved in this assessment are tested on line by 2019, to make this information more useful for student learning processes. The Slovak Republic has also been transitioning to e-testing, with the support of a contribution from the European Social Fund.

From a diagnostic approach, Denmark has also made important efforts to digitalise individual mandatory student learning plans for children from kindergarten to the age of 8. These student plans are based on individual student goals for each student, and collect information on the students’ progress relative to these goals, along with a description of how and when the goals will be followed.

Policy focus

  • In Canada, the province of Alberta’s digitally based Student Learning Assessments (SLAs, 2013) replaced the Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Tests. SLAs take place at the start of the school year and assess literacy and numeracy in language arts and mathematics in Grade 2 (Alberta Education, 2018[17]). Based on the results, the report aims to deliver to students, teachers, and parents’ information on the student's strengths and areas for improvement relative to provincial standards at the beginning of the school year. In 2014/15, a pilot of the SLAs in Grade 3 took place (Alberta Education, 2018[18]).

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Progress or impact: Some 20 randomly selected school authorities took part in the Student Learning Assessments Grade 3 pilot during 2016/17 (Alberta Education, 2016[19]). In 2018, SLAs had extended to Grade 3 in all schools (Alberta Education, 2018[20]). The teachers’ preview of the SLA digital questions and performance tasks aim to tailor the SLAs to the grade level. The SLAs can be used at the teacher’s discretion. Grade 3 SLAs cover four elements in English and French: digital literacy questions, literacy performance tasks, digital numeracy questions and numeracy performance tasks. It is expected that the SLA will continue to reference the current Grade 2 provincial programmes of study until the new programmes of study are implemented (Alberta Education, 2018[17]).

copy the linklink copied!Teacher appraisal

Teacher appraisal is the process whereby individual teachers are evaluated to establish their levels of competencies and performance and/or provide feedback to help them improve their practice (OECD, 2013[2]).

Teachers, schools and the education system in general can benefit greatly from teacher appraisal. It is a way for teachers to receive recognition for high-quality teaching and to advance in their careers. At schools, teacher appraisal can help to raise awareness of the individual profile of teaching staff and hence help tailor better opportunities for professional improvement and progression. Schools, where effective appraisal and feedback mechanisms exist, are also more likely to benefit from greater internal collaboration to improve practice and innovate. As such, effective teacher appraisal can also help education systems to develop stronger teaching and leadership across schools and make the profession more attractive (OECD, 2013[2]) (OECD, 2014[21]).

The formal arrangements of teacher appraisal can vary significantly across countries. Some of the most common formal arrangements of teacher appraisal include: 1) appraisal for the completion of a probationary period; 2) appraisal as part of performance management (e.g. registration, regular appraisal and promotion); and 3) appraisal for reward schemes (OECD, 2013[2]) (Figure 3.5). Approaches to the completion of probationary periods and for reward schemes are discussed in more detail in Chapter 2.

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Figure 3.5. Formal arrangements of teacher appraisal in place, PISA 2015
Teacher appraisal arrangements as reported by countries and economies (OECD average)
Figure 3.5. Formal arrangements of teacher appraisal in place, PISA 2015

Source: Based on data from OECD (2016[3]), PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267510-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997360

As shown in Figure 3.5, a large number of education systems in OECD member countries and non-member economies that participated in PISA 2015 reported having at least one of these types of formal appraisal in place, sometimes on a mandatory basis. Regular appraisal was the most common type of teacher appraisal reported, followed by probation processes. While almost half of education systems also reported employing appraisal for promotion, only 13 education systems reported it as mandatory (OECD, 2016[3]). Other forms of feedback can exist in education systems, which may, or may not, be part of a formal appraisal system. These include classroom observations, student or parental surveys and collegial feedback (OECD, 2014[21]).

According to previous evidence collected by the OECD, two appraisal-related challenges emerge for education systems. The first is the need to design comprehensive systems of teacher appraisal that help teachers (and school leaders) to better understand what is expected from them as professionals at the different stages of their careers, their performance in relation to these expectations and how they can improve to meet or surpass them (OECD, 2013[2]). While providing a coherent view of teacher quality, they also need to align with professional development and incentives and avoid tensions between formative and summative appraisal processes.

The second challenge is ensuring that these systems can effectively provide clear, timely and useful feedback for the teachers and staff in practice. On average, over two-thirds of teachers who responded to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 had received appraisal and feedback and found it helpful in developing their work as teachers in the school (78.6%). However, at the same time, nearly half of the teachers reported then that teacher appraisal and other feedback processes in place in their schools largely occurred to fulfil administrative requirements. Furthermore, less than half (40%) considered that the best teachers receive recognition in their schools, and almost one-third (31%) considered that consistently under-performing teachers would be dismissed in their schools (OECD, 2014[21]). These data point to a need to further monitor the design and implementation processes of appraisal. For appraisal mechanisms to be effective, they need to be validated, understood and owned by actors who must see them as inherent to the system rather than artificial additions that compete with everyday responsibilities.

Policy priorities

Establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms

Establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms is a policy priority for several education systems and includes constructing appraisal procedures focused on improvement to support teachers’ professional growth as part of natural school dynamics. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 7 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (6 education systems), by participating education systems (4 education systems), or both (3 education systems) (Figure 3.6).

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Figure 3.6. Establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms
Figure 3.6. Establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms as a policy priority for at least six education systems, all between 2008 and 2014. These were Chile, Finland, Japan, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Sweden.

Principles of action proposed by the OECD to education systems in this area focus on designing and implementing quality systems of teacher appraisal. This includes developing separate, but complementary, formative and summative components, which should provide clarity to teachers and school leaders regarding the areas they need to improve on an ongoing basis while setting career evolution mechanisms that align with teaching skills. As part of this process, the OECD also recommends ensuring continuously that there is a clear understanding of what constitutes good practice and that a strong formative focus is necessary, as is ensuring continuous guidance and support for teachers in all schools (and eventually ECEC centres).

The OECD has made recommendations to support several education systems, including Chile and Mexico, to strengthen teacher appraisal. For Chile, the OECD made recommendations in 2013 and 2017 suggesting that the Good Teaching Framework, and eventually the School Leadership framework, could capture evolving aspirations for the profession, alongside the more recent components in the system that aim to strengthen the profession. Other aspects also previously identified relate, for example, to improvements in the marking of portfolios, or the integration, to some degree, of the private sector in teacher evaluation frameworks (Santiago et al., 2013[22]; OECD, 2017[23]; Santiago et al., 2017[24]).

For Mexico, the OECD pointed out the need for a standards-based teacher evaluation system in 2012. The OECD proposed that this system could be initially formative, and eventually integrate formative and summative consequences once its implementation progressed, with more socialised rules. The OECD also proposed strengthening the role and capacities of school leaders in teacher-appraisal processes, through the support and co-ordination of Mexican federal authorities (Santiago et al., 2012[25]).

Among participating education systems, four specifically reported strengthening teacher appraisal mechanisms as a policy priority. Chile reported this as an emerging priority for 2015-19, while Estonia, Mexico and the Slovak Republic first identified it as a priority earlier, between 2008 and 2014.

Policy trends

As in 2015, the OECD found relatively few policies related to teacher appraisal for this report. In 2015, the OECD collected examples for Australia, Greece, Mexico and Portugal. At the time of writing this report, these instruments were still in place in Australia, and appeared in revision in Mexico, or had been discontinued (Greece and Portugal) (Table 3.2). More recently, in 2015, Italy introduced annual teacher appraisals.

The limited policy activity reported in this area among participating education systems suggests that teacher appraisal can be a more challenging topic for policy makers, where comprehensive stakeholder engagement or buy-in may be more difficult to attain. This can certainly pose problems for their implementation and sustainability.

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Table 3.2. Policies on teacher appraisal, 2008-19

Teacher appraisal

Encompassing efforts

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Italy: Annual teacher appraisal, as part of the Good School reform (2015); National appraisal guidelines (2018)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Australia: National framework for teacher registration (2011) with a 2017 National Review of Teacher Registration [*]

Mexico: Appraisal system for teachers, school leaders and supervisors, as part of the Education Reform (2013)

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

Encompassing efforts under revision

In this round of policy collection for the Education Policy Outlook, the OECD Secretariat found that encompassing efforts were under revision for policies implemented during 2008-19 for Australia, Italy and Mexico. In both Italy and Mexico, policies were part of very comprehensive reforms undertaken by governments to improve education quality in schools (the Good School Reform in Italy, and the 2013 Education Reform in Mexico).

Policy focus

  • In Australia, the national framework for teacher registration (2011) shapes the current approach to registration in Australia. The framework is underpinned by the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Teacher Standards), a public statement of what constitutes teacher quality and what teachers should know, and be able to do, at different stages across their careers (Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead) (AITSL, 2018[26]). The framework includes a set of eight elements common to the registration processes and requirements of each state and territory. These elements include an initial and fixed period of registration, alternative authorisation to teach, discipline and de-registration, suitability, qualifications, English-language proficiency and mutual recognition across states and territories. All eight elements of the framework were reviewed as part of the National Review of Teacher Registration (AITSL, 2018[26]). In 2017, all education ministers agreed to a National Review of Teacher Registration to identify ways to build on, and further strengthen, teacher registration in Australia. The review considered how the current national registration framework is operating, including all elements of the framework as they relate to consistency and best practice, as well as challenges and barriers to successful implementation. An additional consideration was the extent to which the Teacher Standards are used within regulatory arrangements and appraisal procedures to drive teacher quality and how to further strengthen them. The review also covered the registration of early childhood teachers and vocational education and training teachers in schools.

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Progress or impact: The National Review of Teacher Registration report, One Teaching Profession: Teacher Registration in Australia, was published in 2018 (AITSL, 2018[27]). All education ministers agreed that the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership would, in consultation with key stakeholders, develop an implementation plan for the report’s 17 recommendations, according to national information reported to the OECD; see also (AITSL, 2018[28]; Education Council, 2018[29]) for the specific recommendations to strengthen teacher registration.

At the time of writing this report, the finalisation of the plan is set for late 2019. In the interim, the focus was put on implementing the review’s priority child safety recommendations 9, 10 and 11 that link to the work of the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (National information reported to the OECD).

copy the linklink copied!School evaluation

School evaluation aims to develop an understanding of improvement processes for teaching and learning, school administration, educational administration, school environments and the management of school resources. As such, school evaluation looks into aspects related to the effectiveness of structures and processes in place within a school, the implementation of national education policies and regulations within a school, the quality of student learning outcomes at a school and the capacity of schools to improve. This report looks specifically at schools’ self-evaluations, external school evaluations and comparisons between schools on different performance measures (OECD, 2013[2]).

With increasing school autonomy, school evaluations are becoming key tools of governance to monitor and promote improvement within the system. For at least 62% of students in countries participating in PISA 2015, school principals reported that mandatory external school evaluations are in place. At the same time, governments’ growing interest in reducing the administrative burden of external evaluations has resulted in more attention given to the quality of internal evaluation processes in schools. At least 45% of students in PISA 2015 were also in schools where school principals report that mandatory internal school evaluations are in place in schools (Figure 3.7) (OECD, 2013[2]; OECD, 2016[3]).

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Figure 3.7. Internal and external school evaluations in place, PISA 2015
Results based on school principals’ reports (OECD average)
Figure 3.7. Internal and external school evaluations in place, PISA 2015

Source: Based on data from OECD (2016[3]), PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267510-en. Table II.4.33.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997379

Policy priorities

Achieving quality school evaluations for ongoing improvement

A common policy priority shared by many education systems is the need to achieve quality internal and external school evaluation processes that promote continuous improvement. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 25 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (18 education systems), by participating education systems (13 education systems), or both (6 education systems) (Figure 3.8).

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Figure 3.8. Achieving quality internal and external school evaluations
Figure 3.8. Achieving quality internal and external school evaluations

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this policy priority for at least 18 education systems from 2008-19. For 14 education systems, including New Zealand, the Slovak Republic and Sweden, achieving quality internal and external school evaluation was identified as a priority during 2008-14. For other countries such as Chile and Estonia, the OECD identified this priority more recently (2015-19).

Related principles of action identified by the OECD to education systems in this area refer to strengthening and balancing internal and external school evaluations. These need to take place systematically in order to allow progress to be monitored. A commonly identified challenge relates to moving beyond a vision of basic compliance with requirements, to one oriented on effective student learning and school improvement. For this, the OECD has pointed out the need to cultivate a shared vision of expectations among actors for effective schools or ECEC centres. In order to successfully translate this vision into the reality of the school context, capacity building at both school and local levels is also key. This will facilitate the effective extraction and use of information.

In the Flemish Community of Belgium, the OECD recommended improving the inter-reliability of inspection reports via training during both induction and later on, during inspectors’ careers, for example. At the same time, the OECD recommended possible ways in which the public use of external inspection results could be improved (e.g. simplifying the language used in reports, including summaries for parents and developing small, high-quality charts to convey information visually) (Shewbridge et al., 2011[30]). A possible approach to strengthening external school evaluations that the OECD recommended for Estonia was to extend existing thematic external school evaluations into whole school evaluations (Santiago et al., 2016[31]).

Some 13 education systems reported policy priorities that specifically targeted improving the quality of school evaluations. During 2015-19, this priority was reported as emerging by a small group of education systems including Spain and the French Community of Belgium, while several other countries reported it as persisting from 2008-14. This includes Australia, Flemish Community of Belgium, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and Mexico. For example, as part of the Pact of Excellence in the French Community of Belgium, heads of all schools are required to prepare steering plans, which includes self-assessing their progress.

Policy trends

Building on the findings from 2015, for this report, the OECD Secretariat was able to collect a larger number of policies on school evaluation policies that relate to three identifiable policy trends: policies on internal evaluations, policies on external evaluations, and policies addressing internal and external evaluations in parallel. There is some continuity in terms of policies that had been reported earlier (for example, Ireland’s School Self Evaluation Guidelines for Primary and for Post-Primary Schools), although additional policies were also collected that had been in place during 2008-14 (Table 3.3).

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Table 3.3. Policies on school evaluation, 2008-19

School evaluation policies

External

Internal

Internal/external

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Hungary: Reforms to the external evaluation of schools (2015)

Belgium (Fr.): Decree on Steering Plans (2018)

Belgium (Fl.): Inspectorate 2.0 (2018)

Latvia: List of indicators for school performance (2017)

Greece: Procedures for the planning and evaluation of schools’ educational work (Law 4547/2018)

United Kingdom (N. Ireland): Inspection and Self-Evaluation Framework (ISEF) (2017)

Latvia: Improvement of the accreditation process in general and vocational schools and examination centres (2016)

Portugal: Working Group for the revision of the school's external evaluation model (IGEC, 2016) [*]

 

United Kingdom (England): New Common Inspection Framework for school inspection (2015)

United Kingdom (England): Attainment 8 and Progress 8 reporting (2016)

United Kingdom (England): Revised GCSE criteria (2017)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Czech Republic: Strategy of the Czech School Inspection on external school evaluation (2014-20 )

Ireland: Guidelines for primary schools (2012) and school self-evaluation guidelines for post-primary schools (2012); School Self-Evaluation Guidelines 2016-20 (2016) [*]

Austria: New national quality assurance system for general education schools (SQA, 2013); Further developing a uniform system for all types of schools (Education Reform Act 2017) [*]

Iceland: Co-operation agreement on financing and execution of external evaluations (2011); renewed (2017)

Norway: Assessment for Learning (2010)

Estonia: Concept of external evaluation (2014)

Portugal: Evaluation and monitoring guidelines for pre-school education (2011)

United Kingdom (N. Ireland): Every School a Good School (2009)

Slovenia: Compulsory national assessment at the end of Grade 6 (2012), amendment to Basic Schools Act

Spain: PISA For Schools (2014)

Sweden: Strengthened role of the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (2011)

Turkey: Standards for Pre-school and Primary Education Institutions (2014)

United Kingdom (England): English Baccalaureate (EBacc, 2010)

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

Related evidence on progress or impact shows that many education systems have favoured a cyclical approach to school evaluation, updating frameworks, guidelines and procedures intermittently. This is the case in Portugal, for example, where the latest cycle launching in 2019 has been strengthened to deliver better information and support to stakeholders, and to ensure alignment with the ongoing curriculum reform. Ireland’s updates to the new cycle for 2016 were also informed by consultation and feedback with a range of stakeholders.

Furthermore, evidence collected in Norway and Turkey has pointed to the importance of good communication and capacity building when introducing changes to school evaluation. In Norway’s Assessment for Learning, for example, these very factors influenced the policy’s good reception.

External school evaluations

The largest share of policies collected on school evaluations for this report relates to external evaluations. These policies can relate to school evaluation instruments based on student standardised assessments, measures taken to enhance the clarity of processes and roles of different actors during external evaluations, and the strengthening of the role of inspectorate bodies (OECD, 2013[2]).

Some student assessment instruments aim to support school evaluation processes, as is the case for instruments developed in Slovenia and the United Kingdom (England). The approach varies though, depending on the policy. In England, the tests aim to evaluate school performance and provide parents, or other actors, with information about student outcomes, including comparative information across schools. However, in Slovenia, the new mandatory national assessment at the end of Grade 6 compulsory school is intended for self-improvement and school self-evaluation. Students receive their individual results, while principals and teachers can only access anonymised aggregated results that they can compare to national averages.

Achieving greater clarity in terms of processes and actors has been the object of policies undertaken by a number of countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Iceland, Portugal and the United Kingdom (England). Hungary and England have developed frameworks or guidelines to clarify school inspection processes, and Portugal established a working group to revise the process of external evaluations in schools. Iceland, on the other hand, has established agreements that define the broader processes of the financing and execution of external evaluations among government and municipalities. At the same time, Latvia has established a list of indicators to measure school performance (such as further education pathways or the employment status of graduates) and has worked to enhance accreditation processes in general and vocational schools as well as examination centres.

Other education systems have implemented targeted inspectorate bodies specifically. Over past years, Sweden has attributed greater powers to its Schools’ Inspectorate. Likewise, the Czech Republic has been working to develop methods, procedures and tools of external evaluation to better measure student learning as well as contextualise it according to the students’ and schools’ socio-economic and territorial backgrounds.

Policy focus

  • In 2016, Portugal created a working group of external experts, staff from the Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (IGEC), representatives of other educational administration services, and government advisors to continue to improve the External School Evaluation (Avaliação Externa de Escolas, AEE) programme. In 2016/17, following two evaluation cycles with the current framework, the group focused on revising the evaluation model and enhancing its formative character (IGEC, 2018[32]). The first evaluation cycle started in 2006 when 24 school clusters across the country were evaluated under the guidance of a newly-established group of academic experts and inspection representatives. The evaluation system was then extended to all public schools (except those in the overseas autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira), with external evaluations to be carried out on a five-year basis. The first cycle (2006-11) used a five-dimension analysis (school outcomes, processes, organisation, leadership and self-development), then reduced to three dimensions (school outcomes, education service, leadership and management) for the second cycle (2011-17) (Ministry of Education, 2010[33]; IGEC, 2016[34]). Implementation is under the responsibility of the IGEC, which prepares an annual report with the main results, and provides targeted feedback to schools and evaluators (IGEC, 2018[32]) The National Education Council (CNE) has been following this process and holding commission meetings, working groups and seminars to enhance the analysis, discussion and use of evaluation data (CNE, 2015[35]).

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Progress or impact: Evidence available to the Ministry of Education suggests some improvement in school development, teaching and learning and student outcomes. School self-evaluation has also helped promote professionalism in schools and enhance public knowledge of schools’ work. Furthermore, having a qualitative and comprehensive evaluation process was considered beneficial in supporting schools to improve their internal organisation and self-evaluation. Portugal reported greater trust in schools, their institutional mechanisms and their leaders.

One implementation challenge lies in establishing a system that is objective and produces substantive results, while at the same time recognising and promoting the specificities of schools and their autonomy and empowering them. Another is to avoid an excessively administrative focus, putting more emphasis on the work in the classroom. Across evaluation cycles, ensuring the involvement of a wide range of participants (teachers, parents, students, experts and institutions) was also a challenge (National information reported to the OECD).

Given the diverse backgrounds of its members, the working group is a positive example of increased alignment among system-level administration services. In 2018, following their review, the working group of external experts presented a proposal to improve the AEE programme and the third evaluation cycle launched in 2019 with a revised model widening the programme’s goals and the scope of its action, as well as extending the process to private schools (IGEC, 2019[36]). This is intended to deepen the information garnered from evaluations and provide greater support to schools, enhancing their capacity to ensure quality learning for all students and across all the competencies defined within the new Profile of Students at the End of Compulsory Schooling.

Internal school evaluations

Education systems have also aimed to strengthen internal evaluation processes: this has been the case for schools in the French Community of Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Norway and Turkey. Norway introduced the Assessment for Learning programme (2010-14) to improve formative assessments and support systematic reflection about schools and their assessment practices, among other areas. Ireland has also revised its School Self Evaluation Guidelines produced for both Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

Policy focus

  • Ireland’s School Self Evaluation Guidelines for Primary Schools (2012) and the School Self Evaluation Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools (2012) introduced obligatory school self-evaluation to improve the quality of learning. The process calls for a collaborative, reflective process that focuses on teaching and learning. Based on school and education partners’ feedback, the updated School Self-Evaluation Guidelines 2016-20 advise schools to continue to: 1) focus on teaching and learning; 2) use the process to implement national initiatives; and 3) identify and work on aspects of their teaching and learning practices that require development and improvement (The Inspectorate, 2016[37]).

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Progress or impact: The first cycle of school self-evaluation was intended to explicitly support the implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The second cycle and its revised guidelines offer schools a more systematic approach to understanding how they can improve outcomes for learners. The School Inspectorate anticipates that most primary and post-primary schools will employ the process between 2016-20 in a manner that continues to focus on quality teaching and learning for literacy and numeracy and helps schools to introduce and embed curriculum reform initiatives (The Inspectorate, 2016[37]). The Department for Education and Skills is currently processing survey feedback from school leaders, teachers, parents and boards of management on the role of self-evaluation in school improvement.

Internal/external school evaluations

Education systems have undertaken efforts as well to develop policies that strengthen internal and external assessment in parallel, which involve important aspects of capacity building in schools, as the examples of Austria, Estonia and the Flemish Community of Belgium show. Austria’s National Quality Assurance System establishes development plans in schools to be revised every year by schools, through a process that includes self-evaluation. In the Flemish Community of Belgium, the Inspectorate 2.0 initiative promotes more frequent visits to schools from the Inspectorate. These visits aim to achieve greater emphasis on internal quality assurance processes in schools, which previously took place every ten years. In Estonia, the concept of external evaluation was also put in place to strengthen internal evaluation. This also aims to help schools learn how to capitalise on the support and information available at the national level for their improvement processes (see Chapter 8).

Policy focus

  • In 2013, Austria developed a new national quality assurance system for general education schools (Schulqualität Allgemeinbildung, SQA). The system requires school leaders, in consultation with teachers, to put development plans in place that cover three years each time; they are also required to update them annually. The plan must include self-evaluation, which can be either an internal or external consultation with specially trained school development advisors. Each school and province has assigned SQA co-ordinators who implement and co-ordinate the SQA system.

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Progress or impact: For the formative evaluation of the national quality assurance system (SQA), two assessment rounds took place in 2015 and 2018. All school principals, the entire school supervisory authority for general education, the national SQA co-ordinators and the school co-ordinators were surveyed.

Based on the consultation with school principals, the 2015 report found that in 2014/15, school inspectors and SQA co-ordinators perceived the implementation process as positive (Skliris, 2016[38]). The structure and leading questions of the development plans were found to be useful. The development plans at the individual schools served as a tool to promote the development of school and class quality. The goal to establish evaluation talks on the different levels had been only partially reached, however. School principals found the support by actors, such as the SQA co-ordinators, as positive. At the same time, the support had not been used on a comprehensive scale (Skliris, 2016[38]).

The 2018 evaluation results confirmed that support structures anchored within the framework of SQA were generally accepted and assessed positively (Skliris et al., 2018[39]). It underlined that counselling services offered by University Colleges of Teacher Education and support for school management by SQA co-ordinators appeared necessary for successful quality measures at the school level. It was also reconfirmed that feedback and evaluation were not yet common practice, while overall improvements had taken place. Teaching development had played a central role in many schools, and school principals had promoted teacher co-operation. Measures to develop teaching in schools have also increased since the introduction of SQA. In sum, personnel development and further education were considered of great importance at all system levels. Both school principals and school supervisors have reported an increase in these measures in their area of responsibility since the introduction of SQA (Skliris et al., 2018[39]).

This means that in the new quality measures, too, special attention must be paid to evaluation and evidence-based issues. The results form the basis for implementing the legal mandate to further develop a uniform system for all types of schools (Education Reform Act 2017). More specifically, these elements include the development plans, balance sheet and targeted agreement discussions between management levels, school management and school supervision. The aim is also to ensure the link between the new system and the SQA, according to national information shared with the OECD. The anticipated starting date for the new common quality measures system is the beginning of the school year 2020/21.

copy the linklink copied!System evaluation and evaluation and assessment frameworks

This section brings together two types of policies, those aimed at system evaluation and those aimed at evaluation and assessment frameworks. They are key to help monitor the system as a whole (system evaluation), and that each of its components can act in synergy with the others towards education improvement (evaluation and assessment frameworks). They are therefore also highly relevant for the governance of an education system discussed in Chapter 4. They help the system monitor progress towards established goals (or the need to revise them), facilitating a systems-based approach, and the development of foresight capacities (see Chapter 4).

System evaluation aims to provide information that can be useful to the public for accountability purposes, or planning and improving policies to improve processes and outcomes of education at the national or sub-national levels. System evaluation benefits from a variety of tools, which include: indicator frameworks to monitor key information on school systems; tools to monitor student outcomes (in particular, some specific national assessments, longitudinal research and surveys and international assessments); qualitative reviews focusing on particular areas; and policy and programme evaluation (OECD, 2013[2]). For example, in PISA 2015, 71% of students were in schools where an administrative authority tracks achievement data over time, and 68% of students were in schools where standardised tests were used to compare the school to district or national performance, according to principals’ reports (Figure 3.9).

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Figure 3.9. School monitoring by administrative authorities, PISA 2015
Figure 3.9. School monitoring by administrative authorities, PISA 2015

Source: Based on data from OECD (2016[3]), PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267510-en. Tables II.4.27 and II.4.24.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997398

Evaluation and assessment frameworks are, on the other hand, the components within an education system that contribute separately and as a coherent compound to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in schools. They consist of judgements aimed at measuring the quality of an education system in terms of assessments (progress and achievement of goals of individual students), appraisals (performance of school-level professionals) and evaluations (effectiveness of schools, school systems, policies and programmes) (OECD, 2013[2]).

Policy priorities

Addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation

Previous OECD work on evaluation and assessment in different education systems has identified addressing a possible absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components as a priority for many education systems. This includes ensuring quality and clarity of evaluation processes at system level and the ongoing collection and interpretation of data to inform improvement. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 25 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (22 education systems), by participating education systems (8 education systems), or both (5 education systems) (Figure 3.10).

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Figure 3.10. Addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components
Figure 3.10. Addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this as a policy priority for at least 22 education systems between 2008 and 2019. For some countries, such as Latvia and United Kingdom (Scotland), the OECD identified this as a priority in 2015-19, while for others, including the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, it was identified earlier from 2008-14. For a small number of countries including Mexico sand Sweden, the OECD identified this as a priority both before and after 2014.

Principles of action recommended by the OECD to education systems in this area include broadening the concept of system evaluation through a wide range of ongoing, system-level monitoring. The aim is to improve understanding across the system of how well it can achieve students’ learning objectives. This can refer to developing broad measures of student outcomes, as well as demographic, administrative and contextual data. At the same time, these data also need to be mapped and managed through effective information systems. Better clarity will support better use of data through research and analysis to inform different stages of policy, including planning, intervention and development of policies and strategies. Another key aspect for implementation is the need to develop capacity among actors to use these data regularly for effective improvement.

In 2011, for example, the OECD recommended that Norway clarify learning goals and quality criteria to guide assessment and evaluation (Nusche et al., 2011[40]). Likewise, in 2012, the OECD recommended that Luxembourg strengthen reporting against competency-based learning objectives and analysis of results while ensuring statistical, analytical and research competencies among the staff so as to fully exploit existing information (Shewbridge et al., 2012[41]).

A smaller share of education systems reported aspects related to system evaluation as a priority to the OECD. Belgium (Flemish Community), the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and Turkey reported this as an emerging priority during 2015-19, while this policy priority was first reported in 2008-14 for education systems like Japan, Latvia and Mexico. Latvia has been working to establish national-level education studies, or expand participation in international surveys. Mexico’s efforts to improve system evaluation include a re-design of its student assessment mechanisms, and their complementarity, to provide better information on system performance, as explained later in this chapter and in Chapter 8.

Developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework

Another common policy priority related to evaluation and assessment refers to an education system’s need to develop a coherent evaluation and assessment framework. As defined by the OECD, this largely means ensuring that the evaluation and assessment system’s components are conceived holistically; in other words, that the system integrates mechanisms of student assessment, teacher and school leader appraisal, school evaluation and system evaluation. Each of the components should be developed sufficiently in order to address the system’s needs, but they also should complement each other coherently, and without duplication or inconsistency in objectives (OECD, 2013[2]). Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 25 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (15 education systems), by participating education systems (15 education systems), or both (5 education systems) (Figure 3.11).

The OECD identified this policy priority for at least 12 education systems during 2008-14, including Australia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and Sweden. More recently, during 2015-19, it identified it for Colombia, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom (Scotland).

Some key principles of action suggested by the OECD to these education systems relate to aspects of design and implementation. In terms of design, recommendations target an adequate development of components, with clear articulation among them, contextual relevance, and a strategic plan for implementation. Other aspects related to implementation that could be highlighted include the need to provide a clear rationale and compelling narrative to the evaluation and assessment framework. Engaging stakeholders during the process has, therefore, become a necessary step in ensuring the contextual relevance of the framework, and its ability to encompass different realities. Developing capacities of stakeholders across the system is also part of this process, as is ensuring that the evaluation and assessment framework can effectively lead to improved student outcomes.

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Figure 3.11. Developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework
Figure 3.11. Developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

In its work with different education systems, the OECD referred to the need to develop strategies to ensure that the components of their evaluation and assessment frameworks are aligned and coherent. For example, in 2011, the OECD recommended that Australia develop a national strategy to ensure linkages between classroom practice and overall evaluation and assessment frameworks, or improve integration of the non-governmental sector (through protocol agreements). The OECD advised the Czech Republic to pay due attention to achieving proper articulation between the different evaluation components (e.g. teacher appraisal, school evaluation and school development) (Santiago et al., 2012[9]).

In order to achieve a better balance of components, in 2016, the OECD recommended that Colombia consider reducing the number of standardised assessments and re-design at least one to provide student-level performance data (OECD, 2016[42]). The OECD also recommended that Norway develop a strategic framework in order to clearly map all existing elements of evaluation and assessment in 2011. This mapping would also include elements not formally perceived as part of the National Quality Assessment System, and would help more clearly visualise the elements that needed to be considered in order to complete the evaluation and assessment framework and make it more coherent (Nusche et al., 2011[40]).

The OECD sees capacity building as necessary to make evaluation and assessment frameworks function. This is addressed in analysis for Australia, Denmark and Mexico. In Australia, the OECD recommended developing the capacity of teachers to assess against evaluation and assessment standards, improving data handling by parents, and working with parents and other stakeholders to enhance the clarity of the information provided (Santiago et al., 2011[43]). In Denmark, in 2011, the OECD advised building capacity among those who evaluate and those who use evaluation results at different levels of the system, and more clearly communicating the objectives of the processes so that they can be more easily integrated into action plans (Shewbridge et al., 2011[7]). In Mexico, the OECD mentioned in 2012 the need to build capacity within state educational authorities and supervision structures (supervisors, heads of teaching and heads of sector). The OECD also highlighted building the capacities of school leaders in Mexico to help them operate effective feedback, coaching and appraisal arrangements for their staff (Santiago et al., 2012[25]).

Improving evaluation and assessment frameworks was widely reported by education systems as a priority. A total of 15 education systems have reported this priority and for at least 13 of them, this was an ongoing priority that was first reported in 2008-14. Relevant policy efforts were identified for Finland, Germany and Korea, as discussed later in this chapter.

Policy trends

The policies collected for 2008-19 by the OECD Secretariat have focused on collecting data and increasing the accessibility of information for schools, governments or the broader community, both for accountability and improvement purposes. In addition, the OECD Secretariat has now also collected policies aimed at improving the overall evaluation and assessment frameworks (Table 3.4).

Analysis of the progress or impact of the policies relating to system evaluation collected for this report suggests that many education systems are particularly aware of the need to ensure comparability and continuity of data across time, while also extending and strengthening the type of information collected. This is the case for Germany and Latvia, for example, while Slovenia has been working to interlink the new systems with the existing education records and data collection of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.

Finally, although the majority of the policies collected for this report are longer-standing policies from the period 2008-14, several country’s efforts to act on system-level information remain in their early stages. For example, the OECD recently commended Mexico’s 2015 National Plan for Learning and Assessment as a major step towards reinforcing the role of assessment to improve student learning but found that more progress is needed to ensure teachers use all the derived information for formative purposes (OECD, 2019[44]). This shows that while evaluation and assessment frameworks can be an important step in making systems more improvement focused, the required change of practice among actors at all levels is much slower to take hold.

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Table 3.4. System evaluation: Evaluation and assessment frameworks, 2008-19

Policies on evaluation and assessment frameworks and system evaluation

System evaluation

Information systems

Evaluation and assessment frameworks

Aiming for greater clarity and interconnections

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Latvia: National level education studies (2017); Implementation due to take place from 2018-22

 

New Zealand: Publication of employment status and earnings of tertiary education graduates (2017)

 

Turkey: Quality Assurance Directive of the Vocational and Technical Education Institutions (2019)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Denmark: Data warehouse (2014)

Finland: Quality Criteria for Basic Education (2009); National Plan for Education Evaluation 2016-19 (2016)

Estonia: Estonian Education Data System (EHIS, 2005)

Germany: Comprehensive strategy for education monitoring (2006, revised edition in 2015); As part of it, Educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in German, mathematics and English/French (2012) [*]

Germany: Local Learning (2009-14); Transfer initiative for municipal education management (2013)

Korea: Broadening of the evaluation and assessment framework for the whole education system (2010)

Greece: MySchool - Diofantos (2013)

Hungary: Personal assessment identifier for all students (2008)

Ireland: The Survey on Life skills in Primary and Post-Primary schools (2009-12) [*]

Latvia: Supporting education studies (2011-15)

 

Mexico: National System for Educational Information and Management (2013), replacing the National Registry of Students, Teachers and Schools (2011)

 

New Zealand: Tertiary Education Performance Indicators (2010)

 

Slovenia: Central Register of Participants in Education Institutions (CEUVIZ, 2011); Records and Analytical Information System for higher education in the Republic of Slovenia ( 2012) [*]

Turkey: Expansion of MEBBIS to include data for students and infrastructure for pre-primary, primary and secondary education

 

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

System evaluation: Information systems

A key element of system evaluation is the development of reliable information systems that provide a picture of the system’s performance and progress towards its goals. The OECD collected several policy developments for providing better information relating to the outcomes of the system, its functioning (in terms of both infrastructure and school-level practices) and the monitoring of progress.

In terms of information systems related to student outcomes, for example, New Zealand’s Public Achievement Information (PAI) provides information on student performance at the school level, and other information. Furthermore, New Zealand publishes the employment status and earnings of tertiary education graduates in order to give students clearer perspectives of study education pathways. Slovenia’s Central Register of Participants in Education Institutions (CEUVIS) also aims to provide better information on the performance of the system. This database, which is linked to other databases, has been found useful for making better decisions for the allocation of resources within the system in Slovenia. Latvia has also made efforts to collect more information regarding student performance through national-level education studies and participation in international assessments.

Other information systems aim to bring together different elements related to the quality of the management of the system and practices. Related policies were collected for Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Turkey. Ireland’s Survey of Life Skills, for example, focuses on collecting information on learning practices available at schools and students’ experiences. Furthermore, Mexico’s National System for Educational Information and Management has been a major undertaking, bringing together information on learning outcomes, general school data and infrastructure.

Policy focus

  • Ireland’s Survey on Life Skills in Primary and Post-Primary Schools (2009) gathers information on school policies and practices relating to nutrition, exercise, health, growing up, bullying and other aspects of the social, personal and health education programme. The survey is administered every three years, with subsequent rounds that took place in 2012, 2015 and 2018.

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Progress or impact: As in previous cycles, findings from the 2015 Life Skills Survey suggest schools work positively to equip students with a range of essential life skills, by integrating physical activity and healthy eating, social, personal and health education (SPHE), relationships and sexuality education (RSE), and addressing anti-bullying and substance use (Department of Education and Skills, 2017[45]). The survey design was recently reviewed, and a more streamlined survey was issued to schools at the end of 2018. In addition, the title has changed to the Well-being and Life Skills Survey 2018, given the increased emphasis on student well-being. The Department is also exploring ways in which the survey findings may support the implementation of the Well-being Policy for Schools (2018) (Department of Education and Skills, 2018[46])

  • In Slovenia, the Central Register of Participants in Education Institutions (CEUVIZ, 2011) stores individual, school and education outcome data on students in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, and short-cycle higher vocational education. It is connected to other databases, including the Ministry’s Register of Institutions and Programmes, the Central Population Register, the Register of Social Rights and the Register of Spatial Units. CEUVIZ is used to follow up on key education goals and objectives, make decisions regarding the allocation of public funding, and provide evidence for scientific research and statistical work. The Records and Analytical Information System for Higher Education in the Republic of Slovenia (Evidenčni in analitski informacijski system visokega šolstva v Sloveniji, eVŠ, 2012) is an analytical tool linked to the CEUVIZ. It includes data on higher education institutions, publicly verified study programmes, students and graduates. The eVŠ facilitates regular monitoring of the system’s operations and the development and streamlining of higher education policies. In addition, the eVŠ helps verify students’ rights to public subsidies and different forms of financial aid instruments by serving as a main data source on student status (OECD, 2016[47]). It also includes an online application system for enrolment in study programmes and subsidised student accommodation (European Commission, 2015[48]) .

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Progress or impact: In 2014, the Records and Analytical Information System for Higher Education (eVŠ ) registered almost 1.5 million views of the student data (OECD, 2016[47]). In 2014, 48 595 online applications were completed, as part of the online application system for enrolment into study programmes and subsidised student accommodation places (European Commission, 2015[48]). It was found that the data collection helped reduce fictitious enrolments in tertiary education, in some cases, by deterring ineligible students from enrolling (European Commission, 2018[49]).

In addition, as of 2016, the Modernising the Organisation of Management and Governance of Data in Innovative Learning Environments project (2016-20), co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), aims to support the process of upgrading and interlinking the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport’s existing education records and data collection (from ECEC to upper secondary). The focus is mainly on the Central Register of Participants in Education Institutions (CEUVIZ) and KPIS (a data collection system on school staff and salaries).

According to national information reported to the OECD, at the beginning of 2019, the eVŠ was updated with new administrative data to help monitor tertiary graduates’ employability in Slovenia. This will contribute to evidence-based policy development at the national (ministerial) level and provide higher education institutions with quality data on graduates’ labour market status. This should then support the design and update of study programme curricula, improve the acquisition of relevant skills and strengthen career guidance for students and graduates.

Aiming for greater clarity and interconnections

Some policy developments on policy evaluation frameworks were also collected by the OECD. These policies aim for greater clarity and interconnections within the education system, such as in Finland, Germany and Korea.

Finland, as also discussed in Chapter 4, has also been refining its quality processes across all levels of the system in recent years, for example, by developing quality evaluation plans, which also include criteria for third-party evaluations. Germany and Korea have aimed to develop comprehensive policies that establish quality criteria for the education systems at different levels. In Germany, the four interconnected areas of the framework aim to evaluate quality within and across the Länder (regions). In Korea, the broader evaluation and assessment framework aims to provide a clearer vision of quality at the student, teacher, school or local levels. The policy developments collected in these two education systems also aim to make the resulting information from these frameworks more actionable for policy change at the school level.

Policy focus

  • In Germany, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted a comprehensive strategy for education monitoring in 2006. The strategy, which was revised in 2015, covers four interconnected areas: 1) international comparative studies of student achievement; 2) central assessment of the achievement of educational standards (the basis for comparison between the Länder); 3) comparative studies to review the efficiency of individual schools within the Länder; and 4) joint education reporting of the Federation and the Länder. As part of this strategy, in 2012, Germany implemented educational standards for the general higher education entrance qualification (Allgemeine Hochschulreife) in German, mathematics and in English and French. For its modifications in 2015, the KMK aimed, among other things, to not only describe developments in the education sector but to improve the quality of conclusions drawn from empirical data and implement changes accordingly (KMK, 2015[50]).

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Progress or impact: Thanks to the strategy for education monitoring, the different education monitoring instruments were arranged more systematically, allowing for comparisons and conclusions drawn from a wider and more complex range of data. In addition, the national assessment of the achievement of educational standards entered its second phase, which means that trends and developments can now be described. To further measure student performance, Germany participates in international comparative studies of student achievement (e.g. the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study [TIMSS], the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study [PIRLS] and PISA) (National information provided to the OECD).

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Chapter 3. Evaluation and assessment: Policy priorities and trends, 2008-19