copy the linklink copied!Executive summary

Albania has made improvements in access to education and in raising learning outcomes over the last two decades, moving from one of the lowest performers in the Western Balkans to one of the fastest improvers. Recent reforms include the development of a competency-based curriculum framework, teacher standards and a school evaluation indicator framework. Most recently, Albania has restructured key agencies responsible for school support and external evaluation, in an effort to further deconcentrate central functions and improve service delivery. However, disparities in opportunity and outcomes persist across population groups. Albania has one of the highest rates of dropout in the Western Balkans, and a large share of students in Albania continue to leave school without mastering basic competencies needed for work and life. Addressing these educational challenges is crucial for improving Albania’s economic development and competitiveness as it looks toward joining the European Union.

This review examines how educational evaluation and assessment systems can help Albania detect and address gaps in learning and ensure all students graduate with relevant competencies. It provides recommendations intended to help set priorities for modernising and strengthening these systems, while also informing the development of Albania’s new national education strategy in 2020. In particular, this review recommends Albania help teachers make better use of assessment to improve learning and utilise the ongoing review of its national assessment and examination system to promote improved assessment practices in classrooms. This will require modernising the teaching profession, strengthening school leadership and building the capacity of schools to engage in self-evaluation. To monitor, evaluate and improve educational system performance, Albania will need to further develop its student information management system and build the capacity of institutions to use it as a tool for evidence-based policy-making and strategic planning.

copy the linklink copied!Improving student learning outcomes through student assessment

Albania is working to reform school-based assessment practices and national examinations to better reflect the curriculum, which places an emphasis on student-centred approaches and the development of higher-order competencies. Recent assessment reforms include encouraging teachers to use portfolios of student work to develop a culture of self-reflection among students and assess a wider range of competences, as well as using information from regular assessments such continuous assessment to inform teaching. However, teachers need more support in implementing these strategies effectively and in diagnosing and addressing learning gaps as students progress through schooling. Albania will also need to improve the ability of its national examination system (i.e. the National Basic Education Examination and the State Matura Examination) to provide information on what students know and can do with respect to the new curriculum. This review provides recommendations to help Albania strengthen classroom and national assessment policies and practices in these regards. This includes providing teachers with training opportunities and materials on classroom assessment practice, including how to use assessment results formatively to guide teaching and learning. Albania will also need to review the design and implementation of its national evaluation system to ensure it provides valid and reliable results, as well as to build capacity across the teacher workforce.

copy the linklink copied!Supporting teachers’ professional growth

Teacher appraisal refers to how teachers are assessed and given feedback on their performance and competencies. This process can be used to identify teachers’ training needs and encourage them to continuously develop their competencies. However, in Albania, certain policies and practices limit the ability of appraisal processes to support teachers’ professional growth. For example, promotion within the teacher career structure is based primarily on years of service and an exam that does not authentically measure teaching competence. This review recommends Albania revise the teacher career structure and the appraisal for promotion process to require teachers to demonstrate more advanced competencies to access higher career stages. To ensure that new entrants to the profession are also equipped with the competencies they need to be effective, Albania will need to expand efforts to improve initial teacher preparation and selection. This review also recommends that Albania further support teachers’ ongoing professional growth and mastery of the new curriculum requirements. In particular, Albania will need to develop the regular appraisal of teachers into a more formative process, as well as build the capacity of established teacher professional learning networks to facilitate collaborate learning.

copy the linklink copied!Supporting school evaluation for improvement

School evaluation serves the dual purpose of helping schools improve their practices and keeping them accountable for the quality of their work. In Albania, schools are required to conduct regular self-evaluations, and external school evaluations focus on assessing the quality of instruction through classroom observations. The recent re-organisation of external school evaluation governance aims to enhance capacity to evaluate and provide support to schools, as very few external school evaluations have been conducted over the last several years due to under-resourcing of the former inspection agency. However, some aspects compromise the quality of evaluations and their use to inform school improvement. In particular, the new governance structure for external school evaluation puts the objectivity of the evaluation process in jeopardy, as new regional external evaluators will likely be tasked with helping improve the practices of schools they have evaluated. Gaps in training, tools and data for self-evaluation, chronic underfunding and funding disparities, and weaknesses in school leadership limit schools’ capacity to conduct self-evaluations effectively and to use evaluation results to meaningfully improve. This review provides recommendations to help Albania strengthen school evaluation and support schools to improve their practices. As a priority, Albania should consolidate responsibility for external school evaluation within one central body and provide technical supports and financial resources to schools to help them act upon external evaluation findings. Albania will also need to build schools’ capacity to improve by providing training and tools on self-evaluation and, through the new School of Directors, developing principals’ instructional leadership.

copy the linklink copied!Strengthening capacity to evaluate system performance

System evaluation refers to the processes that countries use to monitor and evaluate the performance of their education systems. A strong evaluation system serves two main functions: improving educational performance and holding the government and other stakeholders accountable for meeting national goals. Albania has started to establish some of the components integral to system evaluation, including the development of a modern Education Management Information System (EMIS). However, developing system evaluation in Albania is limited by the availability of co-ordinated and high-quality data, as well as a relatively weak culture of evaluation within the government. Strategies and policies are often set without sufficient analysis, regular monitoring and reporting on progress is limited, and the impetus to address capacity constraints and further develop the tools needed for comprehensive system evaluation is lacking. This review recommends several measures that Albania can take in order to develop stronger capacity for conducting system evaluation and better co-ordinate the actors who contribute to this process. These include developing the national indicator framework to guide the development of the EMIS, and establishing the latter as the central source of education data. To ensure evidence is used to support strategic planning and to prioritise and achieve national education goals, Albania will also need to build stronger demand for information and analysis within government and develop the institutional capacity and procedures to support a culture of system evaluation. The development of a new education strategy presents an opportunity for Albania to embed evaluation more centrally in the government’s planning and policy-making processes.

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