copy the linklink copied!Chapter 4. Supporting school evaluation for improvement

Abstract

This chapter looks at how Albania can make better use of school evaluation to improve teaching and learning practices. Albania has central procedures for conducting external school evaluations, but very few have been undertaken in recent years. A recent re-organisation of the country’s school evaluation system aims to increase capacity to conduct evaluations and also provide more support to schools. However, some changes may compromise the quality of evaluations. These include the spreading of responsibility for external school evaluations across multiple bodies. In addition, ongoing systemic challenges in Albania limit schools’ ability to meaningfully respond to external evaluations and their annual self-evaluations. In particular, schools are underfunded and have minimal to no autonomy to make budgetary decisions. Schools are also hindered by a lack of strong school leadership. Albania is addressing this challenge through the establishment of a new School of Directors to train and certify principals. Albania also needs to consolidate responsibility for external school evaluation and provide greater technical and financial support to schools to act upon external and internal evaluation findings.

    

copy the linklink copied!Introduction

A decade ago, Albania established a central independent school inspectorate, the State Inspectorate of Education (hereby, the inspectorate) to conduct external school evaluations and introduced the requirement that schools conduct annual self-evaluations. However, very few external school evaluations were conducted because the inspectorate was under-resourced. Albania re-organised its school evaluation system in 2019. The country merged the inspectorate with another central agency and decentralised responsibility for conducting external school evaluations to new regional directorates. The intent of these changes was to enhance capacity to conduct external evaluations and better support schools to improve. However, spreading responsibility for external school evaluation across multiple bodies is unlikely to improve the quality and integrity of evaluations. New regional evaluators will likely be tasked with supporting the schools they have evaluated, which may compromise the objectivity of the evaluation process.

Furthermore, Albania has not yet addressed systemic challenges that limit schools’ capacity to respond to findings from both external evaluations and their own self-evaluations. These include the underfunding of schools and funding disparities that perpetuate inequities. Schools also continue to lack strong leadership and guidance to conduct effective self-evaluation methods and act upon results.

Albania will need to make further changes to strengthen school evaluation and help schools 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!Key features of an effective school evaluation system

In most OECD countries, school evaluations ensure compliance with rules and procedures, and focus increasingly on school quality and improvement (see Figure 4.1). Another recent trend has been the development of school self-evaluation, which has become a central mechanism for encouraging school-led improvement and objective setting. Strengthened systems for external and school-level monitoring and evaluation are seen as essential complements to the increasing decentralisation of education systems internationally to ensure local and school accountability for education quality.

Frameworks for school evaluation ensure transparency, consistency and focus on key aspects of the school environment

Frameworks for school evaluation should align with the broader aims of an education system. They should ensure that schools create an environment where all students can thrive and achieve national learning standards. As well as ensuring compliance with rules and procedures, effective frameworks focus on the aspects of the school environment that are most important for students’ learning and development. These include the quality of teaching and learning, support for teachers’ development, and the quality of instructional leadership (OECD, 2013[1]). Most frameworks also use a measure of students’ educational outcomes and progress according to national learning standards, such as assessments results or teachers’ reports.

A number of OECD countries have developed a national vision of a good school (OECD, 2013[1]). The vision guides evaluation, helping to focus on the ultimate purpose of ensuring that every school is good. Visions are often framed around learners, setting out how a good school supports their intellectual, emotional and social development.

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Figure 4.1. School evaluation
Figure 4.1. School evaluation

Countries’ external evaluations balance accountability and improvement

The vast majority of OECD countries have external school evaluations (see Figure 4.2). Schools tend to be evaluated on a cyclical basis, most commonly every three to five years. (OECD, 2015[2]). Within the broad purpose of evaluating school performance, some countries emphasise accountability for teaching quality and learning outcomes. In these countries, national assessment data, school ratings and the publication of evaluation reports play an important role. In contrast, in countries that place greater emphasis on improvement, evaluations tend to focus more on support and feedback to schools. They also place a strong emphasis on helping schools develop their own internal evaluation and improvement processes.

Evaluations aim to establish a school-wide perspective on teaching and learning

Administrative information for compliance reporting is a standard source of information for evaluations, although it is now collected digitally in most countries (OECD, 2015[2]). This frees up time during school visits to collect evidence of school quality. Most evaluations are based on a school visit over multiple days. Visits frequently include classroom observations. Unlike for teacher appraisal, these observations do not evaluate individual teachers but rather aim to cover a sample of classes across different subjects and grades to establish a view of teaching and learning across the school. Inspectors also undertake interviews with school staff, students and sometimes collect the views of parents. Since much of this information is qualitative and subjective, making it difficult to evaluate reliably, countries develop significant guidance such as rubrics for classroom observations to ensure fairness and consistency.

Many countries have created school inspectorates in central government

External evaluations are led by national education authorities, frequently from central government (OECD, 2013[1]). Across Europe, most countries have created an inspectorate that is affiliated to but frequently independent of government. This arrangement ensures integrity and enables inspectorates to develop the significant professional expertise necessary for effective evaluation. School inspectors may be permanent staff or accredited experts contracted to undertake evaluations. The latter provides flexibility for countries, enabling them to meet the schedule of school evaluations and draw on a range of experience, without the costs of maintaining a large permanent staff. Inspectors across OECD countries are generally expected to have significant experience in the teaching profession.

The consequences of evaluations vary according to their purpose

To serve improvement purposes, evaluations must provide schools with clear, specific feedback in the school evaluation report, which helps them understand what is good in the school and what they can do to improve. To follow up and ensure that recommendations are implemented, countries often require schools to use evaluation results in their development plans. In some countries, local authorities also support evaluation follow-up and school improvement. Around half of OECD countries use evaluation results to target low-performing schools for more frequent evaluations (OECD, 2015[2]).

In most countries, evaluations also result in a rating that highlights excellent, satisfactory or underperforming schools. To support accountability, most OECD countries publish evaluation reports (OECD, 2015[2]). Public evaluation reports can generate healthy competition between schools and are an important source of information for students and parents in systems with school choice. However, publishing reports also risks distorting school-level practices such as encouraging an excessive focus on assessment results or preparation for evaluations. Evaluation frameworks must therefore emphasise the quality of school-level processes, and an inclusive vision of learning, where all students, regardless of ability or background, are supported to do their best. Evaluation systems that emphasise decontextualised outcome data such as assessment results are likely to unfairly penalise schools where students come from less advantaged backgrounds since socio-economic background is the most influential factor associated with educational outcomes (OECD, 2016[3]).

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Figure 4.2. School evaluation in OECD countries
Figure 4.2. School evaluation in OECD countries

Source: OECD (2015[2]), Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2015-en;

Self-evaluation is an internal tool for improvement

Most OECD countries require schools to undertake self-evaluations annually or every two years (see Figure 4.2). Self-evaluations encourage self-reflection, goal-setting and inform school development plans (OECD, 2013[1]). To be an effective source of school-led improvement, many countries encourage schools to use appropriate self-evaluation as an internal tool for improvement rather than an externally imposed requirement. In some countries, schools develop their own frameworks for self-evaluation. In others, they use a common framework with external evaluation but have the discretion to add or adapt indicators to reflect their context and priorities.

The relationship between external and internal evaluations varies across countries. In general, as systems mature, greater emphasis is placed on self-evaluation while external evaluation is scaled back. Most OECD countries now use the results from self-evaluations to feed external evaluations, with, for example, inspectors reviewing self-evaluation results as part of external evaluations. However, the relationship is also shaped by the degree of school autonomy – in centralised systems, external evaluations continue to have a more dominant role, while the reverse is true for systems that emphasise greater school autonomy.

Effective self-evaluation requires strong school-level capacity

Effective self-evaluation requires strong leadership and strong processes for monitoring, evaluating and setting objectives (SICI, 2003[4]). Many OECD countries highlight that developing this capacity in schools is a challenge. This makes specific training for principals and teachers in self-evaluation – using evaluation results, classroom and peer observations, analysis of data and developing improvement plans – important (OECD, 2013[1]). Other supports include guidelines on undertaking self-evaluations and suggested indicators for self-evaluations.

While a principal’s leadership plays a critical role in self-evaluation, creating teams to share self-evaluation roles is also important. The most effective self-evaluation teams involve a range of staff that are respected by their colleagues and have a clear vision of how self-evaluation can support school improvement (MacBeath, 2008[5]). To support collective learning, the self-evaluation team should engage the whole school community in developing a plan for school improvement. This process should include students, who have a unique perspective on how schools and classrooms can be improved (Rudduck, 2007[6]). The views of students and their parents also help to understand how the school environment impacts student well-being and their overall development. This is important for evaluating achievement of a national vision focused on learners.

Data systems provide important inputs for evaluation

Administrative school data – like the number of students, their background and teacher information – provides important contextual information for internal and external evaluators. Increasingly, countries use information systems that collect information from schools for multiple purposes including evaluation and policy-making.

Most countries also collect information about school outcomes. Standardised assessments and national examinations provide comparative information about learning to national standards. Some countries also use this information to identify schools at risk of low performance and target evaluations (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). However, since assessment results do not provide a full picture of a school, they are often complemented by other information such as student retention and progression rates, student background, school financial information and previous evaluation results. A number of countries use this data to develop composite indicators of school performance that frequently inform evaluation and support school accountability.

Principals must be able to lead school improvement

Strong school leadership is essential for effective school self-evaluation, and school improvement more generally. Principals support evaluation and improvement through a number of leadership roles: defining the school’s goals, observing instruction, supporting teachers’ professional development and collaborating with teachers to improve instruction (Schleicher, 2015[8]). This diversity points to a major shift in their role in recent years, with principals increasingly leading instructional improvement.

Principals need a deep understanding of teaching and learning, and strong leadership skills to become instructional leaders

Most principals bring significant experience in the teaching profession – among the countries participating in the OECD Teacher and Learning International Survey (TALIS), the average principal has 21 years of teaching experience. Teaching experience alone, however, is not sufficient and the ability to demonstrate strong leadership of the school community is particularly important. Nearly 80% of principals in TALIS participating countries reported that they received training in instructional leadership either before or after taking up their position, or both (OECD, 2014[9]).

Principals’ initial training must be complemented by opportunities for continued professional development once in post. One of the most effective types is collaborative professional learning activities, where principals work together to examine practices and acquire new knowledge (DuFour, 2004[10]). In countries where international assessment results suggest that learning levels are high, such as Australia, the Netherlands and Singapore, more than 80% of principals reported participating in these kinds of activities in the last 12 months (OECD, 2014[9]).

Professionalising school leadership – standards, selection and appraisal

Given the important role that principals occupy, OECD countries are taking steps to professionalise the role. A number of countries have developed professional principal standards that set out what a school leader is expected to know and be able to do. Principal standards should include how principals are expected to contribute to self-evaluation and improvement. Similar to teachers, principal standards guide the recruitment of principals, their training and appraisal.

Around half of OECD countries have legislated appraisal of school leaders (see Figure 4.3) (OECD, 2015[2]). These kinds of appraisals hold principals accountable for their leadership of the school, but also provide them with valuable professional feedback and support in their demanding role. Responsibility for principal appraisal varies. In some countries, it is led by central authorities, such as an inspectorate or the same body that undertakes external teacher appraisals. In others, it is the responsibility of a school-level body, such as the school board. While the latter provides the opportunity to ensure that appraisal closely reflects the school context, boards need significant support to appraise principals competently and fairly.

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Figure 4.3. Existence of school leader appraisal in OECD countries, 2015
In general programmes
Figure 4.3. Existence of school leader appraisal in OECD countries, 2015

Note: Data for Lithuania are drawn from European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015[7]).

Sources: OECD (2015[2]), Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2015-en; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015[7]), Assuring Quality in Education: Policies and Approaches to School Evaluation in Europe, http://doi.org/10.2797/678.

copy the linklink copied!School leadership in Albania

School leadership capacity in Albania remains limited, with principals focused more on administrative tasks than instructional leadership. Historically, school leadership has not been viewed as a distinct professional role that is separate from teaching. Principals maintain a teaching load of four, six or eight hours per week depending on the size of their school. They are also appraised for performance-based salary increases as teachers rather than as school leaders. Albania is making efforts to address these issues with the establishment of a School of Directors to develop new school leadership policies.

While most teachers in Albania are women, the majority of school principals are men

Albania had 1 408 school principals, 1 047 at the basic education level (i.e. nine-year schools) and 361 at the secondary level, as of the 2014-15 school year (Çobaj, 2015[11]). Although a higher percentage of teachers and deputy principals in Albania is female at all levels of the pre-tertiary education system, fewer women are school leaders: 43% at the primary level and 34% at the secondary level in 2014-15 (Çobaj, 2015[11]). The reasons cited for this include factors that are commonly recognised as barriers to attracting candidates to the school leadership role, such as the difficulty of the job and the heavy workload (Çobaj, 2015[11]).

There is a high turnover rate among principals

School leadership has traditionally been viewed as a temporary position for teachers, and turnover in the principal role is high. This instability makes it difficult to rely on principals to help drive education reform in schools and develop instructional and managerial capacity. In a 2015 study, 84% of 521 teachers surveyed in Tirana, Shkodra, Kamez and Elbasan reported that the principals of their schools changed frequently (Nathanaili, 2015[12]). Of the five schools the review team visited, four of the principals had been in the role for five years or less, shorter than the average of nine years of experience among principals across OECD countries (OECD, 2014[9]). Decisions about the dismissal of principals have lacked transparency (European Policy Network on School Leadership, 2012[13]) and have been influenced by politics (UNESCO, 2017[14]). For example, in 2014, principals were dismissed en masse in Tirana, Shkodra and Fier for reasons that were reportedly politically motivated (Erebara, 2014[15]).

Albania has made efforts to address the politicisation of principal appointment decisions

The appointment of principals to schools in Albania has historically been influenced by politics (Nathanaili, 2015[12]). To address this, Albania introduced open competitions for the role in 2012. The process is now more transparent, and schools are given a greater say in who is appointed. An assessment commission, consisting of a representative of the local or regional education unit, the school board, the school’s parent council, and the teachers’ council, propose two applicants for the role. Despite these changes, appointment decisions still rest with one individual, the head of the regional directorate (formerly the head of the education office or regional education directorate), and there remain concerns that these decisions are influenced by politics.

Until recently, pre-service training for principals was not a requirement

Prior to 2018, the requirements to become a school principal in Albania included reaching the “qualified” teacher category, with at least five years of teaching experience (see Chapter 3), but not completion of pre-service training. Albania developed a pre-service training programme for principals in the past, but it was not delivered on a broad scale nor was it compulsory (UNESCO, 2017[14]). With the establishment of a new School of Directors (see below), mandatory training is now a requirement for principal certification. This is consistent with practices in European and OECD countries which commonly provide initial training to school principals on their key responsibilities (OECD, 2014[9]).

Continuous professional development specifically for school leaders has been limited

Continuous professional development opportunities for school principals reflect the lack of separation between the school leadership and teacher roles in Albania. Principals, like teachers, are required to participate in at least three days of continuous professional development each year in order to earn credits for a higher salary qualification. Principals are also required to participate in the same local professional learning networks as teachers. These networks are overseen by local education offices and deliver training using the train-the-trainer format (see Chapter 3). The current list of training topics identified as areas of need for teachers and principals in Albania relates to teaching responsibilities rather than school leadership responsibilities (AQAPUE, 2019[16]), and the professional learning networks also focus only on teaching topics.

A new School of Directors is intended to professionalise the role of the principal

In 2017, the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth (hereby, the ministry) established a School of Directors, a non-profit centre for educational leadership, with the support of the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF). The School of Directors has been planned since 2012 but has taken time to establish due to a lack of funding, which is now being provided by the AADF for its first ten years of operation. The School of Directors contracted a needs assessment study and a review of the legal framework for the principal role in 2019. Results have informed the development of curriculum for pre-service training, which is being piloted. The organisation also plans to revise the school leadership standards, which were originally developed in 2011 but have not been used widely. Also planned is the development of new certification requirements, appraisal processes and professional learning opportunities for principals.

Principal appraisal is a requirement in Albania, but it does not happen regularly

Principals in Albania are supposed to be appraised by the director of their local education office every two years. However, this has not happened on a regular basis (UNESCO, 2017[14]). The process, as set out but not implemented regularly, would involve an appraisal of the principal based on their achievements in a professional plan. The plan includes indicators relating to school performance (e.g. student dropout rate, percentage of teacher absences, school ranking) and individual performance (e.g. number of training credits). Unlike most OECD countries with principal appraisal processes, principals in Albania have not been assessed against school leadership standards (OECD, 2015[2]). The purpose of the appraisal is also unclear. It would not inform decisions about principals’ professional development activities nor their employment status. Instead, the appraisal would lead only to an evaluation report for the principal’s professional portfolio.

Principals in Albania are subject to other appraisal processes, but these either do not relate to school leadership or do not occur with any regularity. Principals are appraised for promotion as part of the teacher career structure. They are required to pass a portfolio review and qualification exam that relates to their teaching subject or level (see Chapter 3) rather than their work as school leaders. School management is one field that may be assessed as part of external school evaluations, but few have been conducted in Albania.

Schools lack funding and the autonomy to make funding decisions

Schools in Albania are underfunded. The ministry has made efforts to address inequities by introducing grants to cover certain students’ transportation and textbook costs (UNESCO, 2017[14]). However, many schools, particularly those in rural areas, struggle to meet their basic infrastructure needs (e.g. heating) (Gjokutaj, 2013[17]). They also lack instructional materials (OECD, 2016[3]). Funding continues to be inequitable. For example, some prefectures in Albania with high poverty rates, like Durrës, have low average annual expenditure per student (MoESY, 2018[18]; INSTAT, 2015[19]). Responsibility for school funding is divided in the following manner:

  • Funding for schools’ infrastructure and maintenance costs and non-teaching staff is provided by municipalities, either through locally derived funds or central grants distributed to local governments. Competitive government grants also cover some school infrastructure costs.

  • The majority of schools’ educational services (e.g. teachers’ salaries, textbooks) is covered by central funding that flows through the regional directorates and local education offices. This funding does not take into account the particular contexts of the local area and schools (e.g. socio-economic status). Regional directorates and local education offices have full discretion over how funds are distributed to schools (MoESY, 2014[20]).

Schools have historically had minimal to no autonomy over budgetary decisions. The majority of principals in Albania’s schools participating in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 reported having very limited decision-making power over budget allocation (OECD, 2016[3]). A lack of budgetary autonomy makes it particularly challenging for schools to put in place improvement measures in response to school evaluation results. In 2018, the government allowed schools to open bank accounts for the first time, to be managed by the school board, and deposit discretionary funds from parents and private donors. In areas with lower socio-economic status, a lack of private funds will put schools at a further disadvantage.

There is evidence of distributed leadership in Albania’s schools

Principals in Albania are supported by deputy principals, who share both administrative responsibilities (e.g. collecting and reporting data) and instructional responsibilities (e.g. appraising teachers and observing their classrooms). Like principals, they will now be required to participate in pre-service training and obtain a certificate to take on the role. Principals are also supported by the heads of each of the school’s subject teams, which consist of teachers who share the same profile (i.e. teach the same curriculum subject or at the same level). Subject team heads play roles in staff development (see Chapter 3) and school self-evaluation. This distribution of leadership among staff in different middle management and teacher leader roles is a positive feature of Albania’s education system. On average, OECD countries are adopting more distributed approaches to leadership in schools to lessen the workload burden on principals and increase schools’ effectiveness (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). However, in Albania, teacher leaders like subject team heads have not received specific training for their roles. This type of training for teacher leaders now exists in OECD countries such as the United Kingdom (namely in England and Northern Ireland) (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

School boards play a limited role

Since 2012, every school in Albania has been required to have its own board comprising parents, students, teachers and representatives of local government and the community. The board is supposed to fulfil many functions related to school development planning, budgeting and school self-evaluation (e.g. approving the four-year mid-term and annual plan, the budget plan and the members of the school’s self-evaluation committee). However, in practice, their role is limited to providing financial contributions (MoESY, 2014[20]). School board members do not receive any training for their responsibilities (Gabršček, 2016[22]). While the school board is evaluated as part of external school evaluations, the fact that so few evaluations are actually conducted means that boards lack feedback on how they might play a more active role. In Albania’s Strategy on Pre-University Education Development 2014-2020, the ministry identified better activation of the school board, as well as other school bodies, like the parent council and teachers’ council, as key to developing school autonomy (MoESY, 2014[20]).

copy the linklink copied!School evaluation in Albania

School evaluation in Albania is undergoing important changes. These changes include the establishment of a new central agency that will be responsible for revising school evaluation indicators and developing training for evaluators. They also include the creation of regional directorates to conduct external school evaluations and provide more support to schools to follow up on external school evaluation findings. The new organisational structure is intended to ensure that more external school evaluations can be conducted and that they will have a real impact on school quality through closer, improvement-focused support to schools. However, at present, no single entity leads the overall management and implementation of external school evaluations. Albania is planning to make regional evaluators responsible for supporting the schools they evaluate, even though this responsibility will contrast with their need to maintain objectivity. In addition, while schools conduct regular self-evaluations, they do not yet use results to improve their practices in part because they lack training and guidance in this area.

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Table 4.1. Types of school evaluation in Albania

Types of school evaluation

Reference standards

Body responsible

Guideline document

Process

Frequency

Use

External school evaluation

The school evaluation framework in inspection and internal assessment of schools

(guidance for full school inspection) (2011)

The Quality Assurance Agency and regional directorates

(previously, State Inspectorate of Education)

Methodology of inspection and internal assessment of pre-university education institutions (2011)

1) Pre-inspection

2) Inspection

3) Completion of inspection

4) Delivery of inspection report

Infrequently

Originally planned: once every four years

To ensure legal compliance and help schools improve.

School self-evaluation

School self-evaluation team

Methodology of inspection and internal assessment of pre-university education institutions (2011)

Normative provisions (2013)

1) Self-evaluation team is selected and defines scope

2) Subject teams conduct evaluation activities and analyse results;

3) Self-evaluation team judges performance on a scale of 1-4

4) Report is drafted

5) Report is shared internally

Once per year

To identify strengths and weakness and to inform the school development plan.

Source: MoESY (2018[18]), OECD Review of Evaluation and Assessment: Country Background Report for Albania, Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, Tirana.

External evaluation

The school evaluation framework is dense but not all fields are inspected

Albania is in the process of revising its school evaluation framework, which was originally developed in 2011 to serve as the main reference for external school evaluation and school self-evaluation. The 2011 framework covers seven possible areas: the applied curriculum, teaching and learning, school climate and ethics, student care, school management, development of human resources, and students’ evaluation and achievement. These reflect many of the school evaluation areas that are identified as important in the research literature, although the framework does not address equity as measured by the progress and achievement of all learners. The framework is also very dense. The seven fields are divided into 51 subfields, 93 indicators and 654 descriptors (called “instruments”) that further describe the indicators (see Table 4.2). Unlike an increasing number of OECD countries, Albania does not have a national vision of a good school to help focus school evaluations on the factors that are most important to school quality (OECD, 2013[1]).

External school evaluators in Albania decide on the fields and indicators that will be the focus of each full school inspection on a case-by-case basis, which makes it difficult to compare results across schools. Full school inspections result in a rating of one (very good) to four (poor) for each field and indicator evaluated and an overall rating. School evaluation framework guidelines contain helpful descriptions of what a school’s practices would look like from levels one to four. These include both qualitative descriptors (e.g. teaching and learning practices) and administrative compliance descriptors.

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Table 4.2. Excerpt from the school evaluation framework

Field: Teaching and learning

Subfield: Methodology

Indicator: The methodology, techniques and strategies used will ensure the achievement of the teaching objectives

Instruments

The teacher develops classroom methods, techniques and teaching strategies based on his/her plan

  • Methods, techniques and teaching strategies create opportunities for individual and student group work

  • Methods, techniques, and selected strategies are closely related to the content and objectives of the classroom

  • The teacher provides assignments that encourage the active involvement of students

  • Students work individually (in minutes, seconds) in the classroom

  • Students work in groups (in minutes, seconds)

  • The teacher’s explanation is clear, understandable, and appropriate for students

  • The teacher uses different lessons for reflection, clarification and instruction to facilitate learning

  • The teaching time is naturally flowing and connected

  • The lesson is open to the participation of interested individuals, such as: colleagues, parents, etc.

  • At the end of the lesson, the teacher and students draw conclusions or give feedback

Source: AQAPUE (2011[23]), Inspektimi Dhe Vlerësimi i Brendshëm i Shkollës (Udhëzues për Inspektimin e Plotë të Shkollës) [Internal School Inspection and Evaluation (Guide for Full School Inspection)], Agency for Quality Assurance in Pre-university Education, Tirana.

Albania’s former State Inspectorate of Education lacked the resources to carry out its mandate

The ministry’s former regional education directorates and education offices (RED/EOs), which were each responsible for a set number of schools, conducted external school evaluations until 2010 when Albania centralised this responsibility. The country established an independent school inspectorate, which became the State Inspectorate of Education in 2014. The inspectorate’s responsibilities included managing the school evaluation framework and guidelines and conducting school inspections and other monitoring activities. However, a lack of human and financial resources prevented the inspectorate from fulfilling its mandate. For example, the inspectorate was originally supposed to be allotted 120 inspectors, but as of 2019, they employed around 30. Figure 4.4 shows the reduction in the inspectorate’s activities over time. All pre-tertiary schools in Albania were supposed to be fully inspected once every four years, which is similar to the practice across OECD countries, where schools tend to be evaluated every three to five years (OECD, 2015[2]). However, less than 1% of Albania’s schools were inspected annually in recent years (18 in 2015, 20 in 2016, and 9 in 2017) (AQAPUE, 2015[24]; AQAPUE, 2016[25]; AQAPUE, 2017[26]). In addition, the overall results of these inspections were positive, which suggests that schools in real need of improvement may not have been selected for inspection.

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Figure 4.4. Reduction in inspectorate activities
Figure 4.4. Reduction in inspectorate activities

Sources: AQAPUE (2015[24]), Raporti Vjetor 2015 [Annual Report 2015], Agency for the Assurance of Quality in Pre-university Education, Tirana; AQAPUE (2016[25]), Raporti Vjetor 2016 [Annual Report 2016], Agency for the Assurance of Quality in Pre-university Education, Tirana; AQAPUE (2017[26]) Raporti Vjetor 2017 [Annual Report 2017], Agency for the Assurance of Quality in Pre-university Education, Tirana.

Responsibility for school evaluation is now divided between different bodies

As of 2019, responsibility for school evaluation is now split between different bodies, contrary to practices in most OECD countries where one institution has full responsibility (OECD, 2013[1]). Albania merged the inspectorate with the Education Development Institute to create the Agency for the Assurance of Quality in Pre-University Education (hereby, the Quality Assurance Agency), which has a broad mandate covering many policy areas including curriculum design, teacher professional development, school evaluation and system performance evaluation. The Quality Assurance Agency’s school evaluation responsibilities include managing the school evaluation framework and guidelines and training external school evaluators. Evaluators are now based in Albania’s four new regional directorates. They do not report directly to the Quality Assurance Agency. Instead, the directorates fall under the jurisdiction of the ministry’s new executive arm, the General Directorate of Pre-University Education (hereby, the General Directorate). The re-organisation has not been accompanied by additional funds. This suggests that the Quality Assurance Agency and the regional directorates, which have traditionally been under-resourced, may struggle to fulfil their new mandates.

External school evaluations have focused on the quality of instruction

The Quality Assurance Agency is in the process of revising Albania’s school evaluation methodology. The methodology that has existed since 2011 consists of steps that are common to external school evaluations across Europe. These include a pre-inspection during which evaluators gather initial information about the school to determine the scope and focus of the inspection, a school visit, and the preparation of an inspection report (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). The length of the school visit (typically two days) and sources of evidence for evaluations (e.g. administrative information, classroom observations, interviews with teachers and students and parent questionnaires) are also common internationally. Classroom observations have been considered a key component of all external school evaluations, which is a positive practice. However, the level of guidance provided to evaluators to conduct them is unclear.

The inspectorate’s external school evaluations resulted in verbal feedback and a final report that was signed by the inspectorate’s Chief Inspector and posted on the inspectorate’s website. This practice is consistent with an increasing number of European countries that publicly share inspection reports to encourage schools to respond to findings (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). An example of a final report shared with the review team contained helpful information for schools, including detailed findings for each indicator evaluated and brief recommendations for improvement for each overall field.

Schools have received limited follow-up support after an inspection

While external school evaluations resulted in recommendations, and inspectors may have suggested timelines for their implementation, schools in Albania have not been required to develop an action plan in response to inspection findings. This is a requirement in other Western Balkan countries, like North Macedonia and Serbia, to help ensure that all schools act upon recommendations for improvement. When the inspectorate existed, schools that received a “poor” rating on their full school inspection, in any field or overall, were re-inspected (Gray, 2014[27]). Schools could be subject to legislated penalties, like warnings and fines. The head of the local education office had the authority to dismiss the principal of a school that received two “poor” ratings within a five-year period.

Albania has not provided schools with support to follow up on inspection results in the past. The country’s re-organisation of regional and local education offices in 2019 was implemented in part to increase this type of support. However, if the same individuals in the regional directorates are responsible for both evaluating and supporting schools, this may negatively impact both functions.

In the past, inspectors received minimal training

Inspectors with the former inspectorate were appointed by the Chief Inspector. Their profiles were similar to those of school evaluators in other European countries in that those who inspected teaching and learning quality were expected to have experience in schools or other education bodies (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). However, inspectors’ objectivity and capacity were an ongoing concern (MoESY, 2014[20]). Their initial training was much shorter than the average across Europe (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]), and they had access to few continuous professional development opportunities to update their skills.

Albania’s new regional school evaluators reportedly have experience as teachers. The review team lacks additional information about their profiles, how they are being appointed, and the content of the Quality Assurance Agency’s training for them.

Internal evaluation

School self-evaluation is mandatory, but it is not informing school improvement

Annual school self-evaluation is mandatory in Albania’s schools. All students participating in PISA 2015 were in schools that conducted self-evaluations (OECD, 2016[3]). Every year, the principal appoints a self-evaluation team, which includes the school leader and the heads of each subject team, to conduct the process. They select specific subfields and indicators under one or two of the seven fields in the school evaluation framework and develop a plan to evaluate them. The school’s subject teams are responsible for gathering and analysing evidence. The school self-evaluation team drafts a final assessment report based on input and ratings from each subject team, as well as other sources of evidence. This is shared internally and with local education offices, regional directorates and external school evaluators upon request.

While schools conduct self-evaluations, they reportedly view them as an administrative requirement and do not use results to meaningful improve. Schools are supposed to use self-evaluations to inform their school development plans (i.e. their four-year mid-term plan and annual plan), but this is not happening in practice. Almost half of Albania’s principals in schools participating in the PISA 2015 survey reported that school self-evaluation did not influence the quality of teaching and learning in their school (OECD, 2016[3]).

The principal’s role in school self-evaluation is unclear

Albania’s school self-evaluation methodology suggests a high level of staff involvement, which is a positive feature of the country’s system. However, the role of the principal in the school self-evaluation process is ambiguous. Although principals belong to the self-evaluation team, the school evaluation methodology guidelines state that they should not intervene in or affect the outcome of the process (AQAPUE, 2011[28]). By contrast, internationally, principals generally lead the school self-evaluation process because it fits naturally with their leadership role in school development, including the expectation that they work to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school (OECD, 2013[1]).

Schools lack capacity to conduct meaningful self-evaluations

In contrast to most OECD countries, no training is available to school staff in Albania who undertake school self-evaluations (OECD, 2013[1]). The inspectorate provided schools with school evaluation framework and methodology guidelines. However, the latter was designed more to support external school evaluation than school self-evaluation. Schools have received few resources to help them conduct self-evaluations. Furthermore, schools’ self-evaluation practices are not necessarily assessed as part of external school evaluations because the fields that are evaluated change from school to school. This limits the feedback schools receive on their practices and may signal that self-evaluation is not important.

Capacity limitations, particularly around use of evidence and analysis of findings, were evident in a sample school self-evaluation report that was provided to the review team. For example, to assess teaching and learning quality, the school relied mainly on students’ grade point averages and pass rates. The schools’ self-evaluation did not involve other important sources of evidence that would allow the school to obtain a balanced perspective, such as classroom observations.

School-level data and its use

Albania’s external and internal school evaluations are expected to involve a review of schools’ administrative data (e.g. the number of students and teachers, information about the physical environment of the school and its finances) and learning outcome data. The latter includes standardised student achievement data from the National Basic Education Exam at the end of lower secondary education and the State Matura Examination at the end of upper secondary education. The Assessment of Primary Education Pupils’ Achievement (VANAF) provides an additional source of standardised student achievement data, but since it was only introduced state-wide in 2015-16, it is not referenced in the school evaluation framework as a data source. Issues with the administration and marking of the National Basic Education Exam and the VANAF make these unreliable sources of data to compare student outcomes (see Chapter 2 and Chapter 5).

School performance cards have been used to rank schools rather than to support school self-evaluation

Albania introduced school performance cards in 2014 as a tool to increase schools’ accountability for providing quality education and to encourage competition among schools. Their introduction was a positive signal that Albania intends to focus discussions of school quality on evidence. Each year, schools have compiled data for the cards and submitted this to their RED/EOs (now regional directorates and local education offices), which ranked the schools in their area and posted the results on their website.

The school performance card data has included: national indicators defined by the ministry, up to 16 for basic education schools and up to 12 for secondary schools (see Table 4.3), and one or two indicators defined by RED/EOs. Some of the indicators in the card are not real measures of school quality. For example, the number of continuous professional development credits teachers compile does not relate to the quality of the school’s teaching and learning practices.

Schools have perceived the school performance card as an administrative burden that is purely used for school rankings rather than a tool for self-evaluation. RED/EOs were supposed to use the rankings to identify the best and weakest schools in their area to provide adapted follow-up, while parents could use them to exercise the limited amount of school choice available in Albania. However, the rankings have not provided fair and accurate reflections of schools’ performance. This is because each RED/EO has included all schools in their area in the same ranking, regardless of their particular circumstances (e.g. size of school, student population). This has disfavoured certain schools, like those in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, and has not recognised their real added-value.

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Table 4.3. Nationally defined indicators in the school performance card
  • Percentage of students who dropped out compared to the number of students registered at the beginning of the school year

  • Percentage of students' absences compared to total teaching hours during the school year

  • Student pass rate on the National Basic Education Exam and the State Matura Exam

  • Students’ average grade on the National Basic Education Exam and State Matura Exam

  • Percentage of students with a difference (in absolute value) of greater than one grade on these exams and the annual grade they received from their school

  • Student pass rate and average grade on the test organised locally for grades I-III

  • Student pass rate and average grade on the test organised locally for grades other than I-III

  • Difference (in absolute value) between the average student’s grade and these tests

  • Percentage of students that have a difference (in absolute value) of more than one grade on these tests and their annual classroom results

  • Average number of continuous professional development credits gained form the education workers of the school (principal, deputy principal and teachers) during the academic year

  • Percentage of educational workers (principal and teachers) who participated in professional networks

  • Teachers’ results on qualification exams (for qualified, specialist and master levels) in the past five academic years

  • Number of winners of ministry competitions

  • Number of awards won by the school in local educational unit competitions

  • Number of projects won by the school nationally and internationally

  • Percentage of students who obtain their top three choices in university completion

  • The school’s realisation of the objective/s in their annual plan

Source: MoESY (2014[29]) Udhëzuesi Për Cartën e Performancës Së Shkollës [Guide to the School Performance Card, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

copy the linklink copied!Policy issues

Albania is making efforts to improve its school evaluation system to enhance school quality. However, some aspects of the recent re-organisation of external school evaluation governance and processes have moved it further away from the practices of countries that have invested in objective, high-quality school evaluations. As a priority, Albania should make one body, the Quality Assurance Agency, responsible for external school evaluation. In this capacity, the Quality Assurance Agency should assume authority for regional evaluators and undertake revisions to the school evaluation indicator framework so that all external evaluations focus on areas that are key to school quality. Albania’s intention to offer schools regional support to improve the quality of their practices is positive. However, Albania should ensure that it is provided by dedicated school support staff who do not play a role in evaluation. Albania also needs to provide training, tools and data to build schools’ capacity to conduct self-evaluations for improvement. Finally, changes to the school evaluation system are unlikely to have an impact on school quality unless Albania provides schools with sufficient financial resources to fund improvement measures and strengthens school leadership. Albania’s new School of Directors should play a key role in enhancing school principals’ ability to improve teaching and learning.

copy the linklink copied!Policy issue 4.1. Consolidating responsibility for an independent external school evaluation system focused on school quality

Albania has changed their school evaluation system to try to ensure that more external school evaluations will be conducted, recognising the importance of monitoring school quality and helping schools to improve. However, in doing so, Albania has divided responsibility for external school evaluation between multiple bodies. The Quality Assurance Agency now manages the school evaluation framework, guidelines and evaluator training, but does not oversee the work of evaluators in the regional directorates who report to the ministry’s General Directorate. This may negatively impact the quality of external school evaluations. Evaluators in the regional directorates will have conflicting mandates if they are also responsible for supporting schools in response to their evaluations, as planned. Albania should re-visit the mandates of the Quality Assurance Agency and the General Directorate and the role of the regional school evaluators to address these issues. Albania should also develop training for evaluators that offers better preparation for their role than what has existed in the past. This will help to ensure that schools trust evaluators and their recommendations for improvement. The development of a core set of school evaluation indicators and a national vision of a good school will also help schools to improve by concentrating the attention of evaluators and schools on areas that are most important to school quality.

Recommendation 4.1.1. Ensure the integrity of external school evaluation

Making one body responsible for overseeing and implementing external school evaluations would help to strengthen the integrity of the evaluations and enhance efficiency. Albania should also take a different approach to staffing external school evaluations at the regional level to improve quality, expand capacity and reduce costs. All evaluators should receive sufficient training and be subject to an ethical code to ensure that they can conduct their activities effectively and with integrity.

Make the Quality Assurance Agency the sole authority responsible for external school evaluation

In contrast to Albania’s recent division of school evaluation responsibilities, an increasing number of OECD and European countries have made inspections the responsibility of an independent central inspectorate (OECD, 2013[1]). For example, Romania is among the emerging economies in Eastern Europe that have established state school inspectorates to prioritise school evaluation as a core governance function, ensure the quality of inspections and provide an objective perspective on national education policies (see Box 4.1). To gain these benefits without re-establishing a separate inspectorate, Albania should make the Quality Assurance Agency fully responsible for external school evaluation at the central and regional levels and make school evaluation a dedicated priority area within the Quality Assurance Agency’s broader mandate. This would mean:

  • Granting the Quality Assurance Agency direct authority over regional school evaluators. Regional evaluators should be accountable to the Quality Assurance Agency rather than the General Directorate. Evaluators could be hosted by the regional directorates, but the Quality Assurance Agency should recruit, train, certify and employ them (see below). The Quality Assurance Agency should also authorise external school evaluation findings and post reports of results on their website.

  • Ensuring strong leadership for school evaluation within the Quality Assurance Agency. The ministry should reinstate the role of Chief Inspector. The Chief Inspector would have overall responsibility for the quality and integrity of school evaluations and help to elevate the importance of school evaluation within the institution.

  • Providing a dedicated budget for school evaluation. The inspectorate that preceded the Quality Assurance Agency lacked sufficient resources to implement the school evaluation system proposed in 2010. The budget for school evaluation now appears to be split between the General Directorate and the Quality Assurance Agency. Within the latter agency, school evaluation will have to compete for funds with these other areas, which risks a continuation of chronic underfunding. Instead, the ministry should provide a separate, sustainable funding stream for school evaluation to ensure that sufficient resources are available to refine school evaluation indicators and guidelines, develop tools and resources, and hire and train all external school evaluators.

  • Co-ordinating reform efforts within the Quality Assurance Agency. The review team heard concerns that the inspectorate’s work was not taken into account in education policy making. Albania should put processes and structures in place to ensure that different policy areas within the Quality Assurance Agency inform each other’s work. For example, the Quality Assurance Agency should take school evaluation results into account when periodically identifying teachers’ training needs (see Chapter 3) and updating the school curriculum. The Chief Inspector and other Quality Assurance Agency department heads should regularly advise each other and the Minister of Education, Sports and Youth on issues of school quality. To support system reforms, the Quality Assurance Agency could also produce regular reports on the quality of the education system, similar to those produced by Romania’s Agency for Quality Assurance in Pre-University Education (see Box 4.1).

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Box 4.1. Prioritising school evaluation in Romania

The Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Pre-University Education (hereby, the agency) was created in 2005 by the Quality Assurance Law, which provided the basis for the current school evaluation system in Romania. The agency is a permanent external school evaluation body, separate from the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research, with its own legal status and budget.

The agency’s main function is external evaluation and it is responsible for developing national quality standards and performance indicators. After an evaluation, the agency advises the ministry of education whether a school should be granted provisional authorisation, initial accreditation or recurrent evaluation.

Other than external evaluation, the agency also provides guidelines and a template model for school self-evaluation and makes recommendations to the government on issues of quality education. The agency publishes an annual activity report and releases another on the state of quality in education at the national level every four years.

As in other European countries, the agency works with evaluators with significant teaching experience to carry out their external evaluations. Candidates must have experience in the evaluation domain and, once selected, must follow an 89-hour training programme in order to assume their positions.

Sources: SICI (n.d.[30]), Country Profile Romania: Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Pre-University Education, http://www.sici-inspectorates.eu/getattachment/1cbc0561-c91b-4c71-a71c-6b9369ecad61; Kitchen,H. et al. (2017[31]), Romania 2017, https://doi.org/10.1787/ 9789264274051-en; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015[7]), Assuring Quality in Education: Policies and Approaches to School Evaluation in Europe, http://dx.doi.org/10.2797/678.

Recruit and contract new regional external school evaluators

Albania is considering making the same individuals in the new regional directorates responsible for both evaluating schools and providing them with support to improve the quality of their practices. However, evaluators need to have sufficient objectivity and distance from responsibility for a school’s performance to avoid bias (OECD, 2013[1]). Their evaluative role would also impede the development of strong, supportive relationships with schools. Due to chronic underfunding and understaffing issues in Albania, they may also struggle to conduct all of their evaluation duties. Albania should:

  • Separate the external school evaluation and support functions. Instead of the evaluators, dedicated regional directorate staff should be responsible for supporting schools (see Policy issue 4.2). While the Quality Assurance Agency and the General Directorate staff up separate school evaluation and support personnel, in the immediate term, specialists who are already working in a regional directorate could support schools in their own area but evaluate schools in a different region to ensure the independence of the evaluation process.

  • Supplement evaluation teams with contracted evaluators. In the medium term, this will address capacity challenges in the regional directorates, ensure that school evaluations are conducted by individuals with relevant expertise, and allow a broad array of educators to bring back what they learn to their schools. Contracting evaluators will also be more cost-effective than relying solely on permanent staff to conduct evaluations. Contracted evaluators could include highly qualified teachers, such as those at the highest level of the new career structure (see Chapter 3), principals and deputy principals, and staff from within the Quality Assurance Agency or other central education agencies. Contracting educators as evaluators is a common practice in OECD and European countries, including the United Kingdom (Scotland) (OECD, 2013[1]) (see Box 4.2). The Quality Assurance Agency might also consider contracting experts from a range of fields to evaluate schools in specific areas when warranted (e.g. health, inclusive education). Over time, Albania could move towards a model in which most evaluators are contracted.

  • Recruit school evaluators with relevant competencies. New evaluators are reportedly being recruited among the teaching staff of a given region, but the specific qualifications for the position are unclear. The Quality Assurance Agency should ensure that all external school evaluators, whether contracted or permanent, have the competencies needed to effectively conduct their role. Internationally, these generally include expertise in school evaluation and school improvement, analytical skills and knowledge of relevant legislation (Faubert, 2009[32]). The Quality Assurance Agency should consider establishing a recruitment panel to interview and select evaluators based on clear selection criteria related to these competencies. This will help to ensure that the process is transparent and impervious to political influence. This was a concern under Albania’s old system, given that decisions to appoint school inspectors were made by a single person, the Chief Inspector, who was politically appointed (Council of Europe, 2013[33]).

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Box 4.2. Contracted school inspectors in Scotland, United Kingdom

In Scotland (United Kingdom), school inspection teams include:

  • full-time inspectors employed by Education Scotland, the central inspection body;

  • contracted associate assessors (i.e. high-performing principals, deputy principals and local education unit staff) who join inspection teams three times a year; and

  • individuals with diverse backgrounds who are selected and trained for their role.

Source: European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015[7]), Assuring Quality in Education: Policies and Approaches to School Evaluation in Europe, http://doi.org/10.2797/678 (accessed on 18 November 2019).

Provide evaluators with appropriate training for their role

Under Albania’s old system, inspectors with the inspectorate received limited preparation and continuous professional development. A lack of initial and ongoing training restricts school inspectors’ ability to conduct inspections that support school improvement and undermines their authority. Inspectors’ initial training was only two weeks in length, far shorter than the several months or more of training, on average, for new inspectors across Europe (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). The training was also general, intended for all new public servants, rather than specific to school inspection. It is unclear whether a probation period, which is described in legislation, was provided systematically. The initial test of inspectors for confirmation was also not sufficiently specific to their role.

As of fall 2019, the Quality Assurance Agency has reportedly begun to deliver training to new regional school evaluators, but the review team lacks details about its contents and the breadth of the roll-out. Albania should:

  • Provide sufficient initial training to school evaluators. The mandatory initial training for regional school evaluators should be longer and more relevant than the training that was delivered to inspectors in the past. It should be of sufficient length to cover key topics like how to use the revised school evaluation indicators (see Recommendation 4.1.2), gather meaningful evidence, and provide formative feedback. The training should be practical, drawing from specific, real-world examples. It should also allow evaluators to try out inspection practices to assure inter-rater reliability and, in the future, shadow experienced evaluators. For example, in Lithuania, initial training includes 80 hours of theoretical training and 45 hours of practical training (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). Any probationary period for new school evaluators should involve the provision of constructive feedback on the implementation of evaluation techniques.

  • Consider developing training with the Standing International Conference of Inspectorates (SICI). The Quality Assurance Agency could work with SICI or countries with experience providing training to school inspectors to develop and initially deliver training to Albania’s new regional school evaluators. It could then be handed over to the Quality Assurance Agency to deliver on an ongoing basis.

  • Make certification requirements relevant to school evaluation. In addition to requiring successful completion of initial training, the Quality Assurance Agency may opt to continue to require school evaluators to pass a test for certification. This is a common requirement for prospective inspectors in OECD countries (Faubert, 2009[32]). However, in order to be a meaningful assessment of readiness to serve as a school evaluator, the test should be specific to their role.

  • Provide a budget for continuous professional development. The ministry should ensure that the Quality Assurance Agency has a budget for training school evaluators on an ongoing basis. Training should cover, among other things, reforms to teaching and learning that are relevant to school evaluation. Training topics and resources could also be informed by the results of stakeholder feedback on the external school evaluation process. As with initial training, ongoing training should also provide evaluators with practical learning opportunities.

  • Provide guidance on classroom observations. Given the importance of classroom observations in school evaluation combined with the difficulty of reliably evaluating something as subjective as the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, inspectors need significant guidance (OECD, 2013[1]). The extent of classroom observation guidance that has been provided to evaluators in Albania is unclear. The Quality Assurance Agency should review it and consider making enhancements. School inspectors generally benefit from things like a classroom observation protocol that describes how they should conduct themselves and what they should review and observe, as well as indicators to evaluate the quality of teaching and learning, like those developed by the International Comparative Analysis of Learning and Teaching (ICALT) (van De Grift, 2007[34]).

Ensure evaluators conduct their responsibilities with integrity

Stakeholders with whom the review team met spoke of inspectors with the inspectorate being susceptible to corruption. Indeed, in 2019, the Albanian government announced its intention to combat corruption by introducing new recruitment procedures for inspectors across the country’s different inspectorates (INSQ, 2019[35]). In addition to conducting transparent recruitment procedures, as recommended above, the Quality Assurance Agency should take other measures to build trust in evaluators so that schools will accept their findings. In particular, the Quality Assurance Agency should enforce ethical standards for the evaluator role. These could be based on the standards for inspectors set out in the inspectorate’s internal regulations. However, the Quality Assurance Agency should review these to determine whether there are any gaps in the descriptions of principles evaluators are expected to follow and in the unethical practices they should avoid. The Quality Assurance Agency should make new evaluators aware of this ethical code as part of their initial training and dismiss evaluators who violate the code.

Recommendation 4.1.2. Review and revise the school evaluation framework

The design of Albania’s full school inspection process, as set out in the school evaluation framework, was based on European models, including Scotland’s (United Kingdom), and on models designed by other members of SICI. The features of Albania’s framework, including the four-year evaluation cycle, sources of evidence, length of school visits, and composition of evaluation teams, are consistent with international practice. However, the school evaluation indicators are lengthy and dense. This increases the likelihood that the indicators will be used as a checklist rather than a meaningful evaluation tool. Albania should revise the indicators to identify core areas that should be the focus of every full external school evaluation. In addition, Albania should make use of their education management information system (EMIS) as soon as possible to increase the reliability and efficiency of school evaluations.

Focus inspections on core indicators of school quality

Inspectors in Albania have decided on the fields and indicators that will be the focus of each full school inspection on a case-by-case basis. This has not allowed the inspectorate to compare results across schools, nor has it guaranteed that all important areas are covered. For example, a review of the inspectorate’s annual reports between 2015 and 2017 suggests that full school inspections did not evaluate schools’ development of human resources, which is key to improving teaching practice. The Quality Assurance Agency is reportedly in the process of refining it. In doing this, the Quality Assurance Agency should work with stakeholders and educators to:

  • Develop a core set of roughly 10 to 15 indicators. These should cover areas that are most important to school quality, including: the quality of teaching and learning; student learning progress; the quality of instructional leadership; and the school’s self-evaluation practices and the extent to which they focus on teaching and learning. These are all areas addressed in Scotland’s (United Kingdom) indicator framework (see Box 4.3). Indicators should take into account Albania’s particular circumstances, including national education priorities (see Chapter 5) and specific challenges that are known to affect school quality in the country, such as whether schools’ basic infrastructure and operational needs are being met.

  • Better address equity, including all learners’ development. At present, the framework looks at schools’ inclusive practices, but it does not look at progress and outcomes for different student groups (e.g. students from minority backgrounds). By contrast, Education Scotland’s framework assesses not only schools’ measures to promote equity but also whether they have raised attainment for all learners, especially the most disadvantaged students (Education Scotland, 2015[36]). Adding this type of indicator would allow Albania to assess and respond to inequities in outcomes across Albania’s schools and student groups.

  • Reduce repetition. There appears to be repetition across different subfields and indicators in the framework. One example is that the “teaching and learning” field contains a subfield on “evaluation” that includes some of the same content as the “students’ evaluation and achievement” field.

While all full external school evaluations should focus on the core indicators, the Quality Assurance Agency could work with regional school evaluators to evaluate other areas on a less frequent basis or through thematic inspections. These areas could be selected based on, among other things, the Quality Assurance Agency’s system monitoring and input from the General Directorate and the regional directorates.

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Box 4.3. Education Scotland’s school evaluation indicator framework

In the early 1990s, Scotland (United Kingdom) began developing indicators for school evaluation. Over the course of two decades, based on feedback and examinations of how the most effective schools were evaluating themselves, the framework was pared down to the most essential indicators. The current school evaluation framework of Education Scotland includes 15 indicators grouped in three areas: how good is our leadership and approach to improvement; how good is the quality of care and education we offer; and how good are we at ensuring the best possible outcomes for all our learners? For each indicator, there are two to four themes which further describe the indicator. For example:

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Area: How good is our leadership and approach to improvement?

Indicator

Themes

Self-evaluation for self-improvement

Collaborative approaches to self- evaluation

Analysis and evaluation of intelligence and data

Ensuring impact on learners’ successes and achievements

Each indicator is also accompanied by illustrations of what an evaluation of a “very good” might look like, examples of highly effective practice, and challenge questions to support professional dialogue regarding the indicator.

Source: Education Scotland (2015[36]), https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/ Frameworks_SelfEvaluation/FRWK2_NIHeditHGIOS/FRWK2_HGIOS4.pdf (accessed on 18 November 2019).

Develop a national vision of a good school

Albania should consider developing a single, holistic national vision of a good school and including it at the start of a revised school evaluation indicator framework. This will help focus evaluators and schools on the core purpose of school evaluation, to create schools where students can learn and thrive. The vision should be connected to national education priorities, which will help to ensure schools are focused on these areas (see Chapter 5). A vision is generally short and simple to ensure that it is easy to interpret and use. The process of developing the vision should be consultative, gathering input from students, teachers and schools about what they consider to be the most important characteristics of good schools (see Box 4.4).

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Box 4.4. Defining a good school at the national level

Education systems develop a definition of a “good school” at the national level in order to provide standard quality criteria for the evaluation of educational processes and outcomes. This common definition of effectiveness often includes several characteristics, including the quality of teaching and learning, how teachers are developed and made more effective, the quality of instructional leadership, the use of assessment for learning, the rate and equity of student outcomes and progress, setting the school’s vision and expectations, self-evaluation practices and factors concerning the curriculum.

A shared, future-focused and compelling vision at the national level can provide direction and steering to an educational system, bringing key actors together to work toward achieving the vision. It should be shared across all levels of the education system, while allowing space for interpretation based on local or regional differences. A clearly communicated and shared vision can also help ensure reforms continue in the long term, particularly when faced with challenges or obstacles.

  • Ontario’s (Canada) vision for education explicitly incorporates goals:

    Ontario’s vision for education is focused on four core goals: achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence.

  • In 2008, the government of Japan developed the Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, in which it set out a 10-year education vision:

    1) To cultivate, in all children, the foundations for independence within society by the time they complete compulsory education

    2) To develop human resources capable of supporting and developing our society and leading the international society.

  • In Estonia, the Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 guides the formal education system, as well as in-service, non-formal and informal education and retraining. The vision for 2020 is:

    Learning is a lifestyle. Development opportunities are noticed and smart solutions are pursued.

In order to develop their national vision, many countries undertake a consultation process. Such a strategy helps to gather input, engage stakeholders and build consensus. Moreover, when education stakeholders, including teachers, support the vision it is more likely they will dedicate time and energy to their roles. Indeed, effective policy implementation requires a shared vision, and the acceptance, ownership and legitimacy of a policy’s plan, purpose and the process of change must be developed among actors in order to move toward the vision.

Sources: OECD (2013[1]), Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264190658-en; Government of Ontario (2019[37]), Education in Ontario, https://www.ontario.ca/page/education-ontario (accessed on 12 July 2019); MEXT (2008[38]), Basic Plan for the Promotion of EducationProvisional translation), http://www.mext.go.jp/en/policy/ education/lawandplan/title01/detail01/1373797.htm (accessed on 12 July 2019); Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia (2014[39]), The Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/estonian_lifelong_strategy.pdf (accessed on 18 November 2019); Burns, T., F. Köster and M. Fuster (2016[40]), Education Governance in Action: Lessons from Case Studies, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264262829-en.

Use the education management information system to collect data for evaluations as soon as possible

School evaluators in Albania collect and review a range of data about schools as part of their work (e.g. student achievement data, information about the physical environment and finances of the school). Once Albania’s EMIS, Socrates, is more fully developed (see Chapter 5), school evaluators should access as much information as possible directly from the system for use in all types of inspections. This will enable more reliable comparisons between schools, given that this data will be of better quality than what is collected at present. Using the EMIS will also increase the efficiency of evaluations, free up the time of evaluators and school staff, and make the evaluation process less burdensome for schools. Albania’s new local education offices, which are responsible for the day-to-day monitoring of schools, should also make use of the EMIS to minimise data requests to schools.

copy the linklink copied!Policy issue 4.2. Ensuring that external inspections support school improvement

In comparison to OECD and neighbouring Western Balkan countries, Albania places few expectations on schools to respond to external school evaluations. Schools are not required to act upon the conclusions of school inspections and address them in their school development plans. This may lead to school evaluations having very little if any impact on school improvement. This issue is aggravated by the fact that schools are not provided with resources, including hands-on support, to analyse results, develop action plans and address weaknesses. Now that Albania has re-organised regional and local education units, the ministry should ensure that regional directorates have a clear mandate for ensuring school quality, including providing support to follow up on external school evaluations. This type of support is particularly important to ensure that schools that are struggling to meet quality standards are acting on evaluation results and have the capacity to improve.

Recommendation 4.2.1. Require follow-up to external school evaluation results

In Albania, external school evaluation results are not used to incentivise schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning. In addition to improving the quality of the external school evaluation process, as recommended above, Albania should require schools to follow up on evaluation results by developing action plans. Albania should also consider gradually introducing a differentiated approach to external school evaluations to focus resources and attention on schools that need the most support to improve.

Require all schools to develop an action plan in response to external school evaluations

The Quality Assurance Agency should encourage schools to act upon recommendations for improvement by requiring the development of action plans. The absence of this type of requirement represents a significant gap. In other Western Balkan countries with external school evaluation systems, such as North Macedonia and Serbia, all schools are required to develop an action plan in follow-up to an external evaluation inspection. The Quality Assurance Agency might develop a template for this purpose. The template should prompt schools to consider how actions relate to their school self-evaluations and school development plans. The Quality Assurance Agency could also provide schools with examples of good action plans to help guide their efforts. To make this a meaningful practice, principals will also need sufficient pre-service and in-service training on planning for school improvement and engaging school staff in follow-up activities (see Policy issue 4.4). Schools could discuss their action plans with regional directorate staff, who could support them in putting the actions into practice (see Recommendation 4.2.2).

Consider introducing a differentiated school evaluation cycle

Prior to its dissolution, the inspectorate selected a sample of schools for inspection based on their location (i.e. rural vs. urban) and size. It is not clear whether they tried to include schools that were underperforming in this sample. The Quality Assurance Agency and the ministry should consider gradually introducing a systematic risk-based approach to external school evaluations. This should allow Albania to closely monitor struggling schools while rewarding good schools with greater autonomy and space to innovate. An increasing number of countries have introduced differentiated approaches to external school evaluation to better support struggling schools, including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea and Ireland (OECD, 2013[1]). In England (United Kingdom), for example, the central inspection agency, Ofsted, requires schools that received a “required improvement” mark during their regular inspection to undertake a new inspection two years after the original inspection (Gray, 2014[27]). Albania could introduce a similar practice:

  • Schools that receive an overall rating of “poor” on their external school evaluation could be subject to a shorter evaluation cycle. This would incentivise schools to act on the results of their evaluations.

  • Schools that receive a ranking of “good” or “very good” on multiple rounds of external school evaluations (e.g. two) could be subject to a longer evaluation cycle. This would encourage high-performing schools to continue to meet quality standards.

Recommendation 4.2.2. Provide stronger regional support for school improvement

Prior to 2019, the ministry’s RED/EOs were supposed to follow up with schools after full school inspections to determine their progress in responding to recommendations (Gray, 2014[27]). However, representatives of these bodies told the review team that this did not happen in practice. Albania should create positions within the new regional directorates to provide greater support to schools in follow-up to external school evaluations. This support will be particularly beneficial given schools’ lack of resources and limited experience developing improvement measures informed by self-evaluations (see Policy issue 4.3).

Create separate school support staff at the regional level

Albania is currently determining what profile staff in the new regional directorates should have. To ensure that they provide comprehensive support to schools, the ministry should:

  • Create dedicated school support staff within the regional directorates. These individuals should provide schools with varying levels of support based on, among other things, the results of external school evaluations (see Recommendation 4.2.3). For example, in Wales (United Kingdom), regional education consortia employ several different types of staff, including specialists in different teaching and learning areas, and a large number of “challenge advisers” to work with school leaders to help schools improve (Welsh Government, 2014[41]).

  • Recruit highly-proficient educators to support schools. In the short-term, specialists within the previous RED/EO curriculum and quality sectors and programme development sectors could fill these positions. In the medium-term, new school support staff could be recruited from among teachers in the higher stages of a new competency-based career structure (see Chapter 3), as well as principals with experience in successful school improvement. Over time, experience as a contracted appraiser of teachers seeking registration or promotion (see Chapter 3) or as a regional external school evaluator might be considered an asset for these positions. Specialists should be selected through merit-based job competitions involving transparent selection criteria that relate to the competencies needed for the role.

  • Provide school support staff with appropriate training for their roles. The extent of training provided to specialists in the previous RED/EOs is unclear. However, given that RED/EO representatives met by the review team viewed their school support role as being limited to reviewing and providing advice to teachers on their documentation, it is likely that they were not prepared to provide the kind of support described above. To ensure adequate preparation of regional school support staff, the General Directorate and the Quality Assurance Agency might, for example, provide them with opportunities to participate in training that is developed for schools on self-evaluation and improvement practices (see Policy issue 4.3). Over time, new specialists could also be mentored by more experienced specialists.

Consider creating positions for more local school support staff

Each of Albania’s four regional directorates is now responsible for 12 to 16 local education offices that liaise with and conduct day-to-day monitoring of schools. Given their closer proximity to schools, the local education offices are well positioned to provide support that is responsive to schools’ needs. For example, in Scotland (United Kingdom), support for schools is provided both regionally and locally, by six co-ordinating Regional Improvement Collaboratives and 32 local authorities (Scottish Government, 2017[42]). However, in Albania, local education offices have traditionally been underfunded, and staffing challenges are likely to continue, which will limit their capacity to support schools. Given these constraints, Albania might consider creating positions for school support staff who are responsible for schools across several local education offices. These could be co-ordinated by the regional directorates and provide supports like those recommended below, but located closer to schools to provide an efficient intermediate layer of support.

Recommendation 4.2.3. Target support to low-performing schools

Schools in Albania that are struggling to meet quality standards need more support to improve. Schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas have a particularly limited capacity. The government should introduce targeted technical support that is timely, flexible and adapted to schools’ needs (OECD, 2013[1]), as well as targeted funding, to help these schools meaningfully respond to recommendations for improvement resulting from external school evaluations. These government initiatives are likely to be more effective if combined with school-to-school support in the form of a networking programme.

Introduce a risk-based approach to follow-up support

Albania should target follow-up support to struggling schools. This will not only help individual schools to improve but also address broader inequities in Albania’s education system, like lower student outcomes among rural schools (OECD, 2016[3]). Specifically, the ministry should work with the General Directorate to introduce:

  • Intensive technical follow-up support at the regional level. The regional school support staff described above should focus their support on schools in their area that received “poor” results on their external school evaluations. This support could take different forms. For example, support staff should help schools implement action plans in response to their external school evaluations. They could also provide supports like those offered by “challenge advisors” in Wales (United Kingdom) (see Box 4.5).

  • Targeted financial support for schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Financial support would include central funding for the kinds of local technical support described above, as well as a school networking programme (see below) and school improvement grants (see Policy issue 4.4).

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Box 4.5. Support provided by regional education consortia in Wales, United Kingdom

In Wales (United Kingdom), regional education consortia employ several different types of staff, including specialists in different teaching and learning areas, and a large number of “Challenge Advisers”. The Challenge Adviser positions were created specifically to support principals to build in-school capacity to meet school quality standards. There are four main aspects to their role, set out as National Standards for Challenge Advisers:

1. Supporting school evaluation and improvement (e.g. supporting school leaders to conduct classroom observations and improve the quality of teaching, supporting effective target setting as part of strategic planning)

2. Arranging effective support and intervention (e.g. identify resources to address school needs, facilitate school-to-school networking)

3. Developing school leadership (e.g. mentoring, coaching and using evidence to review performance and impact)

4. Building school-to-school capacity (e.g. determining ways in which good schools can support others)

Sources: Welsh Government (2014[41]), National Standards for Challenge Advisers, https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2018-03/national-standards-for-challenge-advisers.pdf (accessed on 18 November 2019); European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015[7]), Assuring Quality in Education: Policies and Approaches to School Evaluation in Europe, http://doi.org/10.2797/678 (accessed on 18 November 2019).

Introduce a networking programme to support school improvement

While inspectors with Albania’s inspectorate may have advised schools to collaborate with other education institutions to help improve quality, this type of collaboration has not been a systematic practice. The ministry should work with the Quality Assurance Agency and the General Directorate to introduce a peer-learning network initiative that pairs schools that received a “sufficient” or “poor” rating on their external school evaluation with schools that received a rating of “very good”. This type of initiative would provide school staff with opportunities to learn about each other’s activities and problem-solve together, with the goal of improving the lower performing school’s practices (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). The Quality Assurance Agency and the ministry would pair schools based on the results of their evaluations, while the General Directorate would ensure that regional directorates and local education offices facilitate schools’ involvement in the networks. If Albania establishes this type of initiative, it could learn from Serbia’s experience introducing the SHARE programme, which paired schools for peer-learning based on inspection results (see Box 4.6).

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Box 4.6. Serbia’s SHARE programme

The SHARE project, a joint project between UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia, the Centre for Education Policy (a research centre in Belgrade) and Serbia’s Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation (IEQE), is the first initiative in Serbia aiming to create learning communities and peer-learning between schools. SHARE aims to improve the quality of education by developing horizontal learning between schools and developing schools’ and teachers’ agency to learn and lead change in the education system. The initial phase of the project took place between 2015 and 2017, with 20 schools, 1 080 teachers and 12 665 students participating across Serbia. The project paired 10 schools that performed very well in the external school evaluation (score of 4), known as “model schools”, with 10 schools that performed weakly (score of 2 or 1), known as “SHARE schools”.

The project used a reflective approach combining classroom observation and feedback on observed practice. Following the selection of participating schools, classroom visitations were planned to support reflective practice. During this step, teachers, school principals and support staff from the SHARE schools observed between 10 to 15 hours of teaching at the model schools.

Based on a pairing system, the majority of discussions between schools focused on classroom management, lesson planning, teaching techniques, student support, teamwork and preparing for external evaluation. To give constructive feedback during these peer-to-peer sessions, staff in the model schools received training on how to articulate, document and share their success with their paired schools. During the final school visits, SHARE schools were also given the opportunity to present their experience and examples of best practices, thus motivating self-reflection.

The SHARE project initiated and established mutual exchange of knowledge and best practices between schools. It provided schools with hands-on experience through its peer-to-peer-learning component. In addition, as a way to enhance the sustainability and long-term benefits of the project, a learning portal was created and shared amongst educators in Serbia. Moreover, 100 practitioners were trained to provide support for quality improvement in low-performing schools, creating a network of facilitators who have been integrated into the ministry of education as educational advisors linked to school administrations around the country.

The first phase of the project had a positive impact on the 20 participating schools and show scope for growth and scaling up. A majority of participating schools have seen an improvement in six out of seven areas of quality measured by the external school evaluation. This improvement was mostly seen in the areas of teaching and learning, school ethos and organisation of work and leadership. More broadly, the project introduced participating staff to the concept of horizontal learning and encouraged teachers to work together without the fear of being judged by their peers. It also allowed them to practice new teaching methods and play a more active role in shaping their classroom and school practices.

Source: UNICEF (n.d.[43]), Dare to Share: Empowering Teachers to be the Change in the Classroom; European Commission (2017[44]), Networks for Learning and Development across School Education, https://www.schooleducationgateway.eu/downloads/Governance/2018-wgs5-networks-learning_en.pdf (accessed on 10 June 2019).

copy the linklink copied!Policy issue 4.3. Helping schools conduct self-evaluation for improvement

In Albania, schools conduct self-evaluations once a year, but they view this as an administrative task with limited benefit. They do not consistently use results to inform improvements as part of the school development planning cycle.

Full school inspections have found that objectives for development are not based on the actual situation in the school (AQAPUE, 2017[26]). Schools also lack capacity to analyse their self-evaluation findings (MoESY, 2014[20]). To address these limitations, Albania needs to develop training to help schools conduct effective self-evaluations and offer guidance on how to integrate self-evaluation and development planning efforts. Schools also need practical tools and relevant data so that they can accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses. The school performance card, if revised, could provide a useful tool to help schools conduct meaningful self-evaluations based on relevant data.

Recommendation 4.3.1. Help schools integrate school self-evaluation into the school development planning process

In Albania, schools’ priorities for development are not consistently informed by an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. As recommended above, making school self-evaluation for improvement a core school evaluation indicator that is assessed in every external school evaluation will underline the importance of the relationship between school self-evaluation and development planning. Albania should also consider conducting research with schools on this topic and ensure that school self-evaluation and development planning are both led by the principal.

Conduct a review of schools’ self-evaluation experiences

The Quality Assurance Agency should conduct a review to gather input from schools about their self-evaluation experiences. This review should include enquiries about why schools might be having difficulty incorporating self-evaluation results into their school development planning process. Information gathered in this review could be used to inform changes to the self-evaluation or school development planning processes, as well as the development of self-evaluation resources and training for schools (see below).

Clarify the principal’s role in school self-evaluation

Effective school self-evaluation relies on strong school leadership (SICI, 2003[4]). Principals need to be able to drive staff to engage in regular school self-evaluation activities, support them in implementing best practices for school self-evaluation and use results to inform school improvement goals. In Albania, while the principal plays a key role in defining school goals by leading school development planning, their role in school self-evaluation is more ambiguous. The inspectorate’s Methodology Guidelines for External and Internal School Evaluation state that the principal should act as a coordinator, supporter and monitor of self-evaluation but that they should not intervene in the process because their involvement could affect the outcome. The review team’s interviews with school staff suggested that, in practice, some schools view self-evaluation as falling outside of the principal’s mandate. To address this, Albania should:

  • Clarify that principals should be directly involved in the school self-evaluation teams’ main activities. The Quality Assurance Agency and the ministry should clarify, in guidelines and all relevant policy documents, that principals should always belong to the school’s self-evaluation team and contribute to its core activities, including making plans to act on self-evaluation results.

  • Ensure that new school leadership standards are used to reinforce principals’ role in school self-evaluation. The School of Directors should ensure that Albania’s school leadership standards, which are being reviewed and revised, are used to support the principal’s role in leading school self-evaluation. For example, the standards should be built into procedures for principal certification, recruitment, appraisal and training (see Policy issue 4.4). The current standards already cover important managerial and instructional leadership areas that are common to school leadership standards across OECD countries, including school self-evaluation (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). However, they are not used consistently and so their view of principals as instructional leaders has not permeated the education system.

Recommendation 4.3.2. Build capacity for school self-evaluation

School staff in Albania do not receive any training on school self-evaluation. They also receive few resources to support their implementation of the process. While the inspectorate provided schools with guidelines containing the school evaluation framework and describing the school evaluation methodology, these lacked information about effective practices and tools schools could use to support their self-evaluations. For-example, a significant proportion of the methodology guidelines focused on the external school evaluation process.

Revise the school self-evaluation guidelines and provide practical self-evaluation tools

To support effective self-evaluation, research recommends that schools be provided with self-evaluation resources and tools and descriptions of schools’ effective practices in using them (OECD, 2013[1]). The Quality Assurance Agency should:

  • Revise the school self-evaluation guidelines to help schools focus on key areas for development. Stakeholders told the review team that the Quality Assurance Agency is already working on revising the guidelines. These should provide an overview of the steps in the self-evaluation process and help schools focus their evaluations specifically on the areas that are known to impact students’ learning and development. One way to do this is by including a few simple questions about how schools are doing in relation to key quality indicators (e.g. How good is learning and teaching in our school? How good are we at ensuring student well-being and inclusion?) (Riley and Macbeath, 2000[45]). The guidelines should contain a small number of core evaluation indicators that are most important to school quality, drawn from the framework identified in Policy issue 4.1. Similar to what is currently included in the school evaluation framework, the guidelines should provide schools with descriptors and benchmarks for each indicator to help them make judgements about their practices.

  • Share self-evaluation tools and effective practices. The Quality Assurance Agency should consider developing an online platform so that schools can share self-evaluation tools and successful self-evaluation practices. This would be similar to the School Self-evaluation website developed by Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills. This website offers schools resources that include evidence-gathering tools (e.g. sample interviews and questionnaires), videos of school self-evaluation seminars, examples of schools’ self-evaluation products, and detailed descriptions of how certain schools conducted their self-evaluations (Department of Education and Skills of Ireland, 2019[46]). The Quality Assurance Agency could solicit these resources from schools and also use external school evaluations as opportunities to collect them. The platform could also be designed to allow schools to communicate and seek advice from each other.

Provide training to school staff responsible for school self-evaluation

Most OECD countries invest in training school staff on school self-evaluation, particularly to develop their understanding of the process when it is first introduced as a requirement (OECD, 2013[1]). By contrast, in Albania, school staff have not received any training on how to conduct self-evaluations. To build schools’ capacity to conduct effective self-evaluations, Albania should:

  • Develop mandatory school self-evaluation training for principals. Principals are commonly provided with training on school self-evaluation in OECD and European countries (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). As recommended above, Albania’s revised school leadership standards should identify school self-evaluation as a core school leadership responsibility, and the standards should be used to inform the development of training for principals. The School of Directors should work with the Quality Assurance Agency to ensure that school self-evaluation is covered in the new training modules for school leaders.

  • Provide regular training for school staff responsible for school self-evaluation. The Quality Assurance Agency should develop this training. It should cover key areas such as how to gather evidence (e.g. using classroom observations, interviews and questionnaires), how to analyse data and how to develop school improvement plans (OECD, 2013[1]). Internationally, this type of training tends to take the form of seminars, workshops or online modules (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). The ministry should provide funding so that all schools that obtain poor results on their external school evaluations can participate in this training.

  • Offer external support for school self-evaluation. In over half of European countries with school self-evaluation, including countries like Belgium (German-speaking community), Estonia, Poland and schools can request self-evaluation advice and support from external specialists free of charge (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015[7]). Specialists are frequently public sector employees, and they commonly offer guidance and training on how to improve schools’ self-evaluation processes, which data collection tools to use, and how to develop and act on findings and work towards goals for improvement. In Albania, each regional directorate could include staff members who have the capacity to provide external self-evaluation support to schools, as is the practice in Wales (United Kingdom). These could be the same regional or local school support staff described in Policy issue 4.2. Schools that are struggling with school self-evaluation and development planning, as evidenced by external school evaluation results, should be required to receive this type of coaching.

Recommendation 4.3.3. Support schools to make better use of data

Schools in Albania require better data to inform their self-evaluation and improvement activities. This includes detailed data on student learning outcomes, as well as more relevant data on schools’ performance in relation to key teaching and learning measures and contextual factors. The school performance card could provide a valuable source of data to support schools’ development. However, at present, it is primarily used as an accountability tool to rank schools. This ranking of schools within a local education area regardless of schools’ differing characteristics presents an unfair comparison of school performance. Albania should, instead, reduce the stakes associated with the school performance card and build trust in the instrument as a developmental tool.

Provide granular data from standardised tests to support school self-evaluation

The Educational Services Centre (ESC) should provide schools with granular data on their students’ results on national exams and assessments (see Chapter 5). This will support schools’ self-evaluations by allowing staff to compare the results of their students against comparable groups in other schools, regionally and nationally. It will also help teachers evaluate their own instructional practices and make adjustments to support student learning.

Transform the school performance card into an internal school self-evaluation tool

To encourage schools to use data in the school performance card for their own self-evaluation and development:

  • The ministry should stop using school performance cards to rank schools and making the cards public. Rather, the school performance card should become an internal tool for schools.

  • The Quality Assurance Agency should provide schools with electronic templates pre-filled with national and, where relevant, regional benchmarks to which schools can add their own data.

Review and revise the indicators included in the school performance card

The ministry and the Quality Assurance Agency should revise the school performance card indicators to ensure that they reliably cover key measures of teaching and learning in Albania’s schools. This will require working closely with the General Directorate and the ESC, which is responsible for national exams and assessments, to improve the quality and comparability of the data. The ministry and the Quality Assurance Agency should also ensure that national and regional indicators are relevant to school quality and reflect contextual factors that impact performance. The ministry should:

  • Improve external measures of student learning. The school performance card already includes key measures of student learning that are comparable nationally, such as results on the State Matura Exam. The card also includes results from the National Basic Education Examination; however, these results are not comparable nationally (see Chapter 2). The ministry should ensure the school performance card and its users avoid using data from the National Basic Education Exam to draw comparisons between schools until the exam’s reliability has been improved. The ministry should also include the VANAF and the new Grade 3 national assessment as measures of learning, once the reliability of the former at national level has been improved and once the latter is implemented (see Chapter 5).

  • Remove indicators that do not capture the main goal of providing quality education for all students. Some of the indicators currently included in the school performance card do not capture the key factors related to improving teaching and learning in schools or contradict the fundamental principle of quality education for all students. These indicators should be removed and replaced with better indicators of quality. For example, the national indicator on the number of continuous professional development credits teachers obtain should be removed, since accruing credits, regardless of the topic of training, is not an indicator of school quality. National and regional indicators on the number of awards at Olympiads and similar competitions should also be removed as they promote a narrow focus on top performers rather than all students.

  • Include contextual indicators. The school performance card should also include some key contextual indicators to better interpret school results and take into account factors outside of schools’ control. Contextual indicators that impact student learning include factors such as language spoken at home and the median income of parents or other available data on students’ socio-economic background. The latter would be similar to the social aspect indicators schools are already required to include in their development plans (e.g. the number of students from families receiving economic aid). The school’s geographic context (rural vs. urban), the number of shifts and whether the school has multi-grade classes are also important pieces of information to better interpret the results.

Streamline data reporting and develop a data portal for schools

Once the ministry and ESC have further developed the EMIS, most of the indicators in the school performance card should be filled automatically from the EMIS system. This will help reduce the reporting burden on schools. As they are developing the EMIS system, the ministry and ESC should also build a school portal or “view” that automatically provides the school with its performance data compared to benchmarks (see Chapter 5). This new dashboard would replace the school performance card. The dashboard should provide schools with:

  • Meaningful benchmarks with comparable schools. The dashboard should allow schools that share contextual features that are closely associated with student achievement, notably the socio-economic background of the student population, to compare their performance. This will reveal whether schools with similar backgrounds are obtaining different outcomes. For example, Australia nationally benchmarks like schools based on students’ national assessment results. (ACARA, 2019[47]).

  • Trends over time for each school quality indicator. This will support school improvement by incentivising schools to show progress and encouraging low-performing schools to keep working towards improvement.

copy the linklink copied!Policy issue 4.4. Supporting school-level capacity for improvement

Chronic underfunding of schools is among the main hurdles preventing schools from using information from external and internal school evaluations to improve their practices. Schools in Albania lack funding that meets their basic needs so they are not in a position to follow through on the results of their self-evaluations and improve the quality of their practices. For example, schools not only lack funding for staff development to improve teaching practices but also basic necessities like heating. Albania needs to address these funding challenges to help schools improve.

Limited in-school capacity to plan and implement meaningful improvements represents an additional challenge. Principals in Albania have historically lacked the capacity to make improvements to teaching and learning practices in their schools. Their role has been primarily administrative. A high turnover rate and a career progression process that rewards principals for teaching rather than leadership have inhibited principals from developing competencies as school leaders. With the establishment of the School of Directors, Albania should focus first on ensuring that pre-service training for principals effectively prepares them to act as instructional leaders and that principals have the time to devote to school leadership responsibilities. Albania should also encourage and reward principals for developing their effectiveness through a new leadership track in the teacher career structure.

Recommendation 4.4.1. Provide schools with sufficient financial resources, including school improvement funding

Education funding in Albania is relatively low as a percentage of GDP compared to levels in neighbouring countries (UIS, 2020[48]). This leads to chronic underfunding of schools, with many schools not receiving enough funds to cover their basic infrastructure and operational needs (Gjokutaj, 2013[17]). Schools’ capacity to provide instruction is hindered by a lack of education material (i.e. textbooks, IT equipment, and library or laboratory material) (OECD, 2016[3]). This puts schools under pressure to look for other sources of funding. In one school visited by the review team, parents were raising funds to cover the cost of heaters. In addition, funds are not distributed equitably (see Chapter 1). While underfunding constrains all schools’ ability to put in place improvement measures, funding disparities mean that schools that need the most support, like those in rural areas, may be at an even greater disadvantage. Albania needs to make changes to how schools are funded to ensure greater equity. Discretionary grants should also be used to help disadvantaged schools work towards improvement.

Ensure that funding is distributed equitably to all schools

The central funding that regional directorates and local education offices use to cover the majority of schools’ expenses (e.g. teacher salaries, textbooks) is not based on a funding formula that takes into account the particular contexts of the local area or schools. At the same time, funding for school building maintenance and recurring costs (e.g. water, electricity, heating) is not sufficient to meet schools’ needs. School staff told the review team that poor infrastructure was a significant impediment to improved teaching and learning. This funding is provided separately by municipalities, derived locally and from central transfers, and through competitive government grants.

To address these issues, Albania should:

  • Introduce a weighted school funding formula for educational services. The government should introduce a funding formula for transfers to regional directorates and their local education offices to cover school budgets within their area. This formula should take into account contextual variables to meet the needs of schools. These should include the number of students per school and the school’s socio-economic context, as well as characteristics of the student population. For example, in Belgium (Flemish and French communities), state authorities distribute resources to schools according to a per-student funding formula that takes into account school characteristics (i.e. location and size) and student characteristics (i.e. socio-economic status and the number of students with special education needs), as well as a range of variables related to the school curriculum (e.g. the level and type of education) (OECD, 2017[49]). The ministry should require that regional directorates and local education offices use this formula when distributing funds to schools.

  • Ensure that funding is available to cover schools’ infrastructure needs. The central government should work with municipalities to review the process for financing these costs to identify where improvements can be made. The government should also determine whether changes should be made to the competitive grants that are intended to address schools’ infrastructure needs. This should help prevent funds for instructional improvement being diverted to fund basic material needs.

Provide targeted funding to schools for school improvement

Schools in Albania, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, do not have the funds to follow through on their school improvement plans. While all schools were granted approval to open bank accounts in 2018, they will only be in charge of the funds they can raise from parents and private donors. It is unlikely that schools in lower socio-economic areas will be able to raise the funds they need to implement development plan activities. The ministry should consider introducing discretionary school improvement grants that schools can use to implement these activities. This could be a part of the school competition for a national fund that the ministry is reportedly developing or a separate initiative. In distributing these grants, the ministry should give priority to schools that have received poor results on their full school inspections and base their decisions on factors like schools’ location or socio-economic status. An international example of this type of grant is the Pupil Premium in England (United Kingdom) (see Box 4.7). The Quality Assurance Agency could work with their regional school evaluators to conduct a thematic inspection of the use of the grants once they are fully in place, and disseminate effective practices gathered from the inspection. School principals would be the key decision-makers regarding the most appropriate use of the grants. This means that they would need training on how to manage the funds effectively (see Recommendation 4.4.2).

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Box 4.7. Pupil premium in England, United Kingdom

In England (United Kingdom), the Department for Education has established an additional funding scheme (Pupil Premium) provided to schools serving disadvantaged students. Pupil Premium funds are provided on a per-student basis and schools have autonomy on how these resources are spent. Schools are expected to spend these resources on strategies that better support learning for disadvantaged students and close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students. Since 2012, schools are required to publish online information about how the Pupil Premium is used and the interventions they are implementing to address the needs of disadvantaged students as well as the impact they are having.

Schools receiving the Pupil Premium are required to monitor and report achievement of all students and to report achievement specifically of disadvantaged students. Ofsted, the English inspection agency, monitors closely the attainment and progress of disadvantaged students and how schools are addressing the needs of disadvantaged students. If the inspection identifies issues regarding the provision for disadvantaged students, then a more thorough review (the pupil premium review) is conducted. The purpose of this review is to help schools to improve their pupil premium strategy so that they “spend funding on approaches shown to be effective in improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils”. The Department for Education uses information reported by schools to highlight and reward those schools reaching good results for disadvantaged students.

Sources: OECD (2017[49]), The Funding of School Education: Connecting Resources and Learning, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264276147-en.

Recommendation 4.4.2. Develop the role of the principal as instructional leader

Until now, the principal and teacher roles in Albania have not been as distinct as they are in other countries. For example, principals in Albania are still appraised for a salary increase as part of the teacher career structure, they maintain a teaching workload, and they return to teaching after short periods as school leaders. Albania’s principals have also lacked consistent pre-service training and continuous professional development focused on the school leadership role. Principals need sufficient preparation and training, particularly on instructional leadership, to develop competencies to lead improvements to teaching and learning in their schools. A lack of training can also limit the impact of national education policies since principals who are not well-prepared and supported are not as effective at applying these policies in schools (Vaillant, 2014[50]).

Albania is poised to create a new vision for the role of the principal with the establishment of the School of Directors. Developing a cadre of strong school leaders who are capable of improving school quality is a long-term investment. As a priority, the School of Directors should ensure that new pre-service training for principals is of high quality and develops both instructional leadership and managerial capacity. Another priority should be freeing up principals’ time for their school leadership responsibilities. To attract qualified candidates to the profession and ensure that they are encouraged and rewarded for developing their leadership effectiveness, Albania should also introduce processes to completely de-politicise principal appointment and dismissal decisions, and create career opportunities within a leadership track of the teacher career structure. A more formative annual appraisal process and collaborative, job-embedded professional learning opportunities will also help principals develop their leadership skills.

Develop pre-service training that addresses instructional leadership

The new pre-service training for principals, which will be mandatory for school leader certification, is now being delivered by universities as a pilot, initially to principals already in the role. The School of Directors should ensure that the training:

  • Covers instructional leadership, as well as all other essential areas of school leadership identified in revised school leadership standards, as recommended above (see Policy issue 4.3). Important instructional leadership areas include taking ownership of school self-evaluation, planning and leading school improvements, and guiding and supporting teachers to improve their delivery of the pre-tertiary curriculum.

  • Includes opportunities for practical preparation. Practical training is increasingly a central feature of pre-service training for school principals across OECD countries. For example, mandatory pre-service training in Israel includes an internship (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). Albania should pay particular attention to this given that universities are delivering the training. Internationally, some programmes delivered by higher education institutions have been considered too theoretical (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

  • Is of sufficient length. The School of Directors should use the pilot to review whether the nine months of training on weekends is long enough to address all essential areas of instructional and managerial leadership. Pre-service training programmes for school leaders in OECD countries commonly last for two years part-time, or between 12 to 18 months (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

  • Is free of charge or subsidised. When the training is initially provided to principals already in the role as a requirement for maintaining their position, it should be given free-of-charge. When it is offered more widely as a certification requirement, Albania should consider funding universities to deliver the training free-of-charge or covering the majority of the costs to attract more educators to become principals. For example, in Slovenia, Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), and Austria, educators who aspire to become principals do not have to pay for pre-service training, while in Israel and New Zealand, participants share the cost with another entity (e.g. a level of government or the provider) (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

The School of Directors should also ensure that the certification exam that is undertaken at the end of the pre-service training assesses principals’ management and leadership skills. These skills can be tested through case studies in which school principals demonstrate their capacity to use information about the school to develop an improvement plan.

Abolish principals’ teaching load

Devoting a considerable amount of worktime to teaching prevents principals in Albania from effectively delivering on their managerial and instructional leadership responsibilities. The ministry is considering eliminating the requirement that principals maintain a teaching workload. The review team strongly supports this change.

Introduce a leadership track that encourages competency development

Albania is having difficulty attracting teachers to become principals and retaining them in the profession. Some structural factors such as the teaching load discussed above and the lack of clear differentiation between the principal and teacher career structure have heavily limited the development of a professional core of school principals in Albania. Principals can only obtain performance-based salary increases as teachers. There has historically been no system to motivate them to develop their competencies as school leaders. Teacher leaders (i.e. subject team heads), who are potential future school leaders, are not provided with opportunities to develop their leadership competencies. To address these issues, the ministry, School of Directors and other key partners should introduce a career track for school leaders. To do so, they should consider:

  • Identifying levels and roles for the leadership track. Albania lacks a formal system to support the identification and development of teachers with leadership potential to become school leaders. The ministry should create a competency-based pathway into school leadership. Albania could begin its leadership track with levels for “intermediate leaders” who are subject team heads, professional network managers and all teachers at level 3 or above on the teacher career structure who aspire to school leadership (see Chapter 3). The leadership track would then include deputy principals and principals.

  • Developing career levels for school leaders. Albania currently lacks a mechanism to encourage continuous leadership development among principals and to reward their performance in a way that relates to leadership rather than teaching. Developing competency-based career levels for the principal role that are associated with salary increases would support this, and could also help Albania recruit more teachers to the principal role by making it more attractive (OECD, 2019[51]). Albania might consider developing levels for the school leadership role, progressing from newly appointed to experienced. Albania could look to the Czech Republic as an example of a country that has established a similar structure (see Box 4.8). The ministry should also revise the school principal standards to define the competencies associated with each level in the career track.

  • Creating a path from school leader to system leadership. The ministry might also consider extending the leadership track to include system leaders. Requirements for local or regional leadership roles such as director of a local education office do not take into account leadership experience. Including system leadership as the highest level of the leadership track and selecting only the most effective school leaders to take on these roles would contribute to the overall improvement of the education system (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). This type of leadership track, encompassing teacher leaders, school leaders and system leaders is similar to the model established in Singapore (see Chapter 3).

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Box 4.8. The proposed career structure for school leadership in Czech Republic

In 2015, the National Institute for Further Education (NIDV) in Czech Republic developed a proposal for a new career system for school principals (kariérní systém pro ředitele). The Institute suggested a system with career stages that ranged from 0 to 3 and would be based on standards. Under this structure, teachers interested in becoming principals would be at stage 0. Newly appointed principals would be at stage 1, during which they would undergo a two-year induction phase and a post-induction phase in order to support their leadership development. Stage 2 would be for principals who have successfully completed the induction and post-induction phases. Stage 3 would be for system leaders.

Source: Shewbridge et al. (2016[52]), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Czech Republic 2016https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264262379-en.

Develop collaborative professional learning opportunities for school leaders

Research recommends providing principals with collaborative, job-embedded learning opportunities, including induction programmes that involve mentorship, and networking (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]). Albania should consider introducing:

  • School leadership networks. Albania could build on progress made in establishing professional learning networks for educators (see Chapter 3) by developing local networks specifically for school leaders. The School of Directors and local education offices would need to provide support and guidance to help these networks function as effective professional learning communities. An example of this type of school leadership network can be found in Sweden where, in each municipality, a director of education responsible for developing principals organises regular network meetings with principals. These meetings are used for coaching, problem solving and testing new ideas (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

  • A principal mentorship programme. Albania could likewise build on the country’s tradition of teacher mentorship by developing a programme in which experienced principals mentor new principals. The ministry and School of Directors would need to ensure that mentors receive adequate recognition and training for their role. In Estonia, for example, coaches are selected from among school principals with at least five years of experience. They need to demonstrate high levels of motivation and pass a mandatory training course on communication, needs analysis, coaching and feedback (Education and Training 2020 Working Group, 2017[53]).

Use revised principal appraisal processes for formative and summative purposes

The appraisal of principals does not occur on a consistent basis and it does not support school leaders’ ongoing development. For example, it does not inform decisions about professional learning opportunities that would meet principals’ needs. Appraisal results also do not inform dismissal decisions. There are ongoing concerns that these decisions are influenced by politics. In addition, Albania lacks an appraisal for promotion process that assesses principals based on their school leadership work. Instead, principals are appraised for a higher qualification category and salary increase solely based on their work as teachers. The ministry and the School of Directors are currently working on revising the appraisal of principals. To address these issues, they should:

  • Introduce a periodic school leadership appraisal process to inform mandate renewal and career decisions. To ensure that these decisions are fair and free from political influence, the ministry and the School of Directors should shift responsibility for appraisal from local education office directors to independent evaluators. Given that the School of Directors will only have 10 staff members, which is not sufficient to conduct appraisals nation-wide, some regional school evaluators with the Quality Assurance Agency could take on this additional responsibility. In Israel, for example, school leader appraisals that inform decisions about employment status and career progression are conducted every three years by inspectors who belong to an independent agency (OECD, 2013[1]). The School of Directors will need to develop appraisal guidelines based on the revised school leadership standards and work with the Quality Assurance Agency to train inspectors. The training could cover things like how to effectively use appraisal instruments and how to communicate with school leaders (Piggot-Irvine, 2003[54]).

  • Introduce an annual appraisal of principals for formative purposes. The ministry and School of Directors should also develop a separate regular appraisal process for principals. It could be structured around an annual performance review period to ensure maximum support. As with the current appraisal process, it could be conducted by the local education office director or their designate (e.g. a specialist within the programme development sector). The primary outcomes of this process would be the identification of relevant professional learning activities and constructive feedback for school leaders. These are key appraisal outcomes intended to build school leaders’ competencies (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

  • Use the appraisal processes to respond to underperformance and inform dismissal decisions. Decisions to dismiss principals are not always made transparently in Albania. In addition, regulations allow for principals to be removed from their position for poor school or student performance (e.g. average scores on the State Matura Examination for three years are lower than the previous two years). This risks penalizing principals for factors that influence school and student outcomes that are beyond their control, such as lack of funding, rather than their own performance. Local education offices and school boards should, instead, use appraisal results or external school evaluation results to justify the removal of a principal. Dismissal decisions should be preceded by measures that are commonly used internationally to give principals opportunities to change their practices, including the development and implementation of improvement plans, and further evaluation (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

Provide guidelines for appointment commissions and consider enhancing their authority

Despite progress, there continues to be mistrust among school actors about the integrity of the appointment process of school principals. New rigorous requirements to become a principal and new appraisal processes should help to make their initial appointment and ongoing employment more merit-based. Albania should also make the following changes to help ensure that appointment decisions are based on relevant assessments of candidates and free from political influence:

  • Develop guidelines to help appointment commissions assess candidates against the revised principal standards. The School of Directors should develop these to ensure that principals are judged based on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are key to school leadership in Albania. In Victoria (Australia), for example, selection panels are given detailed guidelines outlining the most important selection criteria and explaining steps to prepare for and conduct interviews (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008[21]).

  • Consider altering who makes the appointment decision. The ministry could consider making appointment decisions the result of a majority vote by the appointment commission rather than solely the decision of the director of the regional directorate. The ministry could also involve additional external expertise on the selection committee, such as a regional school evaluator with the Quality Assurance Agency. For example, in the Slovak Republic, an inspector from the State Schools Inspectorate sits on each principal selection committee to provide an objective, external perspective, and some school boards select a principal for appointment based on a confidential vote for their preferred candidate (Santiago et al., 2016[55]).

Incentivise school leaders to work in struggling schools

Schools in rural or socio-economically disadvantaged areas are generally most in need of a strong school leader to improve teaching and learning practices, but these schools are also among the hardest to staff. A 2014 research study of deputy principals in Albania found that relocation in a rural area was a disincentive to becoming a principal (Çobaj, 2015[11]). The salary scale may be one factor that makes school leadership less attractive in rural areas. Principals’ salaries are differentiated according to the size of the school. This means that leaders of smaller schools, which are predominantly in rural areas, have lower starting salaries.

The ministry, in partnership with the School of Directors, should consider introducing measures to incentivise talented school leaders to work in harder-to-staff areas. These could include financial and non-financial incentives, as recommended for teachers in Chapter 3. For example, Chile and Colombia offer a higher base salary to principals in disadvantaged or remote schools, and Kazakhstan provides an allowance and housing support to principals in rural schools (OECD, 2019[51]). Non-financial incentives could include things such as national recognition for outstanding school leadership in different regions.

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Policy issue

Recommendations

Actions

4.1. Consolidating responsibility for an independent external school evaluation system focused on school quality

4.1.1. Ensure the integrity of external school evaluations

Make the Quality Assurance Agency the sole authority responsible for external school evaluation

Recruit and contract new regional external school evaluators

Provide evaluators with appropriate training for their role

Ensure evaluators conduct their responsibilities with integrity

4.1.2. Review and revise the school evaluation framework

Focus inspections on core indicators of school quality

Develop a national vision of a good school

Use the education management information system to collect data for evaluations as soon as possible

4.2. Ensuring that external evaluations support school improvement

4.2.1. Require follow-up to external school evaluation results

Require all schools to develop an action plan in response to external school evaluations

Consider introducing a differentiated school evaluation cycle

4.2.2. Provide stronger regional support for school improvement

Create separate school support staff at the regional level

Consider creating positions for more local school support staff

4.2.3. Target support to low-performing schools

Introduce a risk-based approach to follow-up support

Introduce a networking programme to support school improvement

4.3. Helping schools conduct self-evaluation for improvement

4.3.1. Help schools integrate school self-evaluation into the school development planning process

Conduct a review of schools’ self-evaluation experiences

Clarify the principal’s role in school self-evaluation

4.3.2. Build capacity for school self-evaluation

Revise the school self-evaluation guidelines and provide practical self-evaluation tools

Provide training to school staff responsible for school self-evaluation

4.3.3. Support schools to make better use of data

Provide granular data from standardized tests to support school self-evaluation

Transform the school performance card into an internal school self-evaluation tool

Review and revise the indicators included in the school performance card

Streamline data reporting and develop a data portal for schools

4.4: Supporting school-level capacity for improvement

4.4.1. Provide schools with sufficient financial resources, including school improvement funding

Ensure that funding is distributed equitably to all schools

Provide targeted funding to schools for school improvement

4.4.2. Develop the role of the principal as instructional leader

Develop pre-service training that addresses instructional leadership

Abolish principals’ teaching load

Introduce a leadership track that encourages competency development

Develop collaborative professional learning opportunities for school leaders

Use revised principal appraisal processes for formative and summative purposes

Provide guidelines for appointment commissions and consider enhancing their authority

Incentivise school leaders to work in struggling schools

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