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Quality assurance in education in the context of - Quality

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					  Quality assurance in education in the context of changing
         VET institutions – European perspectives
                                  Nikitas Patiniotis
      (Paper to be presented at Bucharest Forum meeting, 25-27 February 2000)

1. Introduction
The concept of this presentation emerged in the course of the last Forum meeting in
Evora. It struck me that the undertaking of the creation of a European
instrumentarium for quality indicators was given a warm welcome by Forum
members. In the working group VET institutions where I gave a brief account
regarding the creation of this instrumentarium, a strong debate was initiated about its
targets, vehicles and range. As a result, I was asked to make an extensive presentation
on this topic in the forthcoming Bucharest Forum’s workshop. I am happy to see that
Mr Alexandru Modrescu, the Romanian national representative in the Working
Committee on quality indicators in education, is attending this Forum meeting. I
gather he has already participated in the two previous meetings of the Working
Committee in which, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to attend.
 The elaboration of this instrumentarium aims at the evaluation of educational quality
in all forms of education, both general academic and vocational education. It mainly
concerns school education without excluding adult education. The Working
Committee responsible for the elaboration of the instrumentarium has left out
completely the quality indicators only in tertiary level education. Besides, because
this Working Committee was constituted following an initiative of the Ministers of
Education, it is obvious that the proposed instrumentarium intends to evaluate solely
educational processes supervised by the Ministries of Education of these European
countries. However, in a number of European countries, the Ministries of Education
supervise the majority of vocational education institutions. Therefore, we can claim
that the produced quality indicators are in a position to evaluate the parameters of
vocational education, too. Special mentioning should be done to the significance and
contribution of general education to the success of vocational education. We should
also refer to the fact that a growing number of educational systems in Europe offer
Duoqualification preparing, thus, their school graduates –on an equal basis- for both,
further studies into post-secondary or tertiary level education and, access to the labour
market of various regions.
Our paper, taking into account the updated results of the Working Committee for the
creation of “Indicators and benchmarks of quality of school education”, presents,
mainly, the outcomes of the second progress report of this Working Committee.

2. Discussion on the quality of vocational education in the times of
changing VET-institutions
In current discussions concerning quality assurance in vocational education there is a
tendency to use broadly recognized and accepted indicators. By using these indicators
it is expected to provide a method to realize a potential interdependence between the
quality features of educational process, the impact of measures on vocational
education in the labour market and, the working conditions of graduates upon
completion of their training. This suggested approach is innovatory and more


                                                                                       1
comprehensive than the older and wide spread approach according to which no
approach [analysis] regarding the qualitative features of measures on vocational
education took place.
In the light of this new consideration it is feasible to overcome the impediment in the
distinction of the evaluation between “processes”, “product” and “outcomes” of
educational process. Because it has been realized that a process positively evaluated
per se, following an analysis, cannot produce in any case positive results, it becomes
evident, that there is a pressing need for a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of
the measures on vocational education. These measures can be materialized in a certain
way and produce definite and established results.
In this phase I do not consider it necessary to spend time on providing an accurate
definition for the term “evaluation”1 since as far as my own presentation is concerned,
the accurate definition is not necessary2.
It should be mentioned, though, at this point that the Working Committee has decided
to assess the evaluation of all forms of schools on the basis of their results. Certainly,
it takes into account that other factors (i.e. economic input factors) play a key role to
the production of quality in education. These factors are easily measurable and can be
found in current educational statistics. At any rate, the Working Committee has
decided that particular focus would be given on the results of all forms of school
education. In short: educational outcomes result mainly to the evaluation of quality.

3. The Creation of Indicators and Benchmarks of Quality of School
Education: The Prague Mandate and the Work of the Working
Committee
At the Prague conference on 26/27 June 1998, Ministers of Education from 29
European countries met. During the first day of the conference, discussions focused
on the issue of the improvement of school standards as a basis for lifelong learning3.

Whilst recognising that education was a matter of national competence, the final
communiqué proposed, as a promising area for future European co-operation in the
area of school standards, the establishment of:

         “ …a small number of key indicators or benchmarks to assist national
         evaluation of systems”.

The communiqué suggested further that the discussion should focus first on the areas
such benchmarks might cover.



1
  i.e. : 1. Cronbach, L.J. (1980), Toward reform of program evaluation, San Francisco (JOSSEY-
BASS). 2. Patton, M.Q. (1989), Qualitative evaluation methods, London (SAGE). 3. Guba, E. &
Lincoln, Y. (1990), Fourth generation evaluation, London (SAGE). 4. Seviven, M. (1994), Evaluation
ideologies, in: Conner, D., Altman, G., Jackson, C. (eds), Evaluation studies, vol. 9, p. 49-80, Beverly
Hills (CA: SAGE).
2
  It is worth noted that due to the fact that the definitions of both, evaluation and “quality”, are still
quite controversial issues, the Working Committee for the creation of quality indicators of education,
whose proceedings I am discussing in this paper, has not provided an accurate definition.




                                                                                                             2
Following the communiqué, the Ministers of Education nominated national experts
in order to constitute a Working Committee on quality indicators. The following 26
countries are represented by an expert in the working committee on quality indicators:
Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The
Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Cyprus, Hungary,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and
Slovenia. The national expert of Greece is Prof. Dr. N. Patiniotis and of Romania Dr.
Alexandru Modrescu.

A Danish proposal on a limited number of indicators (14) for quality of education was
presented at a very early stage to the working committee. In the proposal, the Danish
Ministry of Education stressed the importance of looking at education in the broad
context of life long learning rather than from the more restricted perspective of the
labour market.

The working committee has been introduced to the different studies in the field of
indicators and quality evaluation launched within the framework of analysis of
common educational policy interest of the Socrates programme (Action III.3.1.).

In general, the working committee expressed satisfaction with present state of play in
the field of indicators in international organisations/associations especially regarding
the work of OECD, IEA4 and UNESCO, as well as that of EUROSTAT and
EURYDICE. It was however stressed that the financial burden of these surveys was
heavy and that if new indicators were to be developed, then that should, as far as
possible, be done in co-operation with existing international initiatives. The
Committee considered further that several indicator projects were presently too
focused on economic and quantitative issues and that they were too complex and
research oriented. The conclusions from the Prague conference and the mandate given
to the Working Committee should be seen in the light of these considerations.

4. The Selection of Indicators on School Standards

In its work on indicators on school standards, the Working Committee has taken as
starting point, Ministers’ request that the work should be able to “assist national
evaluation of systems”. The Committee has therefore adopted a systemic approach to
school standards, covering not only indicators for “good schools” but also indicators
on success and transition, monitoring, resources and structures. The discussions have
been based on a model covering input, process and outcome indicators.

The working committee has furthermore acknowledged that no pan-European concept
of quality of education, or quality of “school standards”, has been agreed upon,
although many challenges are common to all.

The Committee has thus focused its attention on those areas of greatest political
relevance for school standards. It has therefore mainly discussed “outcomes”
providing a clear link to the quality of the whole system. “Process” and “input”
indicators have nevertheless been perceived as crucial to the analysis, since political
decisions can directly influence these two areas.

4
    The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.


                                                                                      3
It was decided not to analyse contextual factors like age distribution of the population,
unemployment rates, gross domestic product etc. although these factors play an
important role for understanding the “success” of school education.

An instrument for the selection of indicators has been discussed in detail and agreed
upon in the working committee. Three broad selection criteria (policy relevance,
validity, and comparability) will be used when discussing indicators.

1. Indicators should be policy relevant. They should be relevant to educational
   debates (including those in mass media) and provide information pertinent to
   current challenges. Indicators should relate to the objectives of the education
   system and be designed to lead to development of quality in the school system by
   providing clear analytical links to those areas which can be influenced by policy
   makers.

2. Indicators should be valid. They should be as simple as possible to allow clear
interpretation, but at the same time as complex as necessary to avoid simplistic
conceptions of quality. They should be easy, and relatively inexpensive, to collect.
This later point will encourage the use, where possible, of indicators that have already
been tested or those which are based on existing national and international evaluations
in participating countries.

3. Indicators should allow for comparisons between countries. Therefore
indicators should focus on issues where differences exist between countries. They
should be quantitative in nature and data should cover a reasonable time period.
Furthermore, indicators should as far as possible cover all concerned countries.

When selecting indicators on the basis of political relevance, the relevance of the
national priorities as well as the European agenda have be taken into account. The
committee has suggested that where there are problems in reconciling national
hierarchies of objectives, predominance should be given to a European dimension.

A vast number of indicators have been discussed on the basis of these criteria. Within
the following eleven areas which were identified by the committee the following
indicators were suggested and debated:

Curriculum attainment covers indicators such as attainment in mathematics, reading, foreign
languages, sciences, history, and geography.

Cross curriculum competencies include the following indicators: learning to learn skills, problem
solving skills, co-operative skills, adaptability, computer literacy, EU- literacy, communication skills.

Attitudes and values are covered by indicators as follows: democratic values, self-esteem,
environmental awareness, moral issues, civics and EU-values.

Overall success includes indicators on: graduation rates, dropout rates, extent of repeating classes.

Transition rates includes indicators on: transition rates from school to higher education institutions,
from school to work, from school to unemployment, and from school to private life.

Stakeholder participation includes teacher, parent, student and community participation in education
and relation between school and home.




                                                                                                        4
Evaluation of systems includes procedures for external evaluation, relation between external
evaluation and internal evaluation.

Financial resources include indicators on: educational expenditure according to level of education and
per pupil/student. Under this category an indicator on cost-effectiveness has been proposed.

Human resources include indicators on: pupil/ teacher ratios, teacher supply, and teacher
competencies.

Structures of education include indicators regarding: extent of pre-5 education, levels of decision,
tracks of education.

Equipment in institutions includes facilities for sciences, number of computers, textbooks.

On the basis of this large set of different indicators proposed by national experts the
working committee has selected a set of 16 indicators within four main areas:
attainment, success and transition, monitoring of school education, and resources and
structures. These are set out in the following table.

      SIXTEEN INDICATORS ON QUALITY OF SCHOOL EDUCATION


                                       Mathematics
                                       Reading
                                       Sciences
Attainment                             Foreign languages
                                       Learning to learn
                                       ICT
                                       Civics

                                       Drop-out rates
Success and transition                 Completion of upper secondary education
                                       Participation rates in tertiary education

                                       Parents participation
Monitoring of school education         Evaluation and steering of school education

                                       Educational expenditure per student
Resources and structures               Education and training of teachers
                                       Participation rates in pre-primary education
                                       Number of students per computer



The reader will find below a presentation of each of these sixteen indicators for school
education, covering their political relevance, and the current state of play of data and
statistics in the field, as well as future perspectives.

4.1. Attainment
Education and training systems carry essential responsibility for the transmission of
knowledge and for equipping young Europeans with appropriate skills, qualifications
and attitudes essential to meet future challenges. Certain of the central aptitudes are
highlighted, however it is important to keep in mind that they constitute a whole.
Pupils are being bombarded by information and impressions and they draw lessons
from experiences inside and outside school. Schools should contribute to the




                                                                                                    5
transformation of these experiences into knowledge and sound basic competencies as
a starting point for future learning.

Mathematics
Mathematics is the most interdisciplinary of all the sciences. At a basic level,
mathematics is the "language of science". It provides important tools used by all other
sciences for the analysis of data, the forecasting of change and for solving problems.
The scope of mathematics extends beyond the limits of the subject itself. The ability
to deal with the culture of logical thinking is a basic requirement for development in
society. The ability to analyse different situations, to reach conclusions through the
process of logical reasoning, to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant and the
proven from the unproven, to order and classify, to set hypotheses are all skills
acquired through mathematics. Finally, it is generally assumed that a nation's
industrial competitiveness derives in part from its strength in mathematics. Indicators
giving pointers to the performance of school students are therefore of high political
relevance.

The proposed aggregated indicator is taken from the TIMSS5. Data exist for 20 EU
and acceding countries so at the level of comparability the indicator offers good
coverage.

In the medium/long-term perspective, indicators from the PISA6 survey (OECD) will
be available (results of first survey circle will be published during autumn 2001).
Moreover “TIMSS- repeat” is being administered to eighth-grade students in about 40
countries7 worldwide and the results will be available in 2001. Finally for our analysis
in this area, the Commission is supporting a project “Reference levels in school
education in Mathematics”8 carried out by the European Mathematical Society
(EMS).




5
   IEA (1994-95): Third International Mathematics and Science Study. For more information:
http://www.iea.nl/
6
  OECD: Programme for International Student Assessment. For more information:
http://www.pisa.oecd.org/
7
     Including 21 of European and acceding countries.             For more information:
http://timss.bc.edu/TIMSS1/AboutTIMSS.html
8
   The project aims to identify common Reference Levels in mathematics in Europe. For more
information: http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/poledu/qua-21.html


                                                                                        6
Reading
All governments are interested in raising the levels of literacy of their citizens, and
school systems around the globe accord high priority to the development of reading
competence. It is widely acknowledged that to combat illiteracy, children must be
encouraged to read at an early age. Reading books to children increases their listening
and speaking skills, letter and symbol recognition, ability to form and use more
complex sentences, understand words and ideas, and develop positive attitudes
towards reading. All these abilities help strengthen a child's readiness to begin school.
Reading skills play a central role in the whole learning life of the individual at school.
The ability to read and understand instructions and text material is a basic requirement
of success in all school subjects. The importance of literacy skills does not, however,
come to an end when children leave school. Such skills are key to all areas of
education and beyond, facilitating participation in the wider context of lifelong
learning and contributing to individuals’ personal and social development.

The proposed indicator is taken from the IEA study of reading literacy (1990/91).
Data exist for 15 countries (Belgium (Fr), Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain,
and Sweden. Moreover the Commission is co-financing a study in view of developing
tests free of cultural bias9.

In the medium/long-term, perspective indicators from the PISA survey (OECD) will
be available (results of first survey circle, where literacy is a major domain, will be
published during autumn 2001).

Science
Hardly one day goes by without headlines in the newspapers regarding natural
disasters, pollution, food poisoning, and new cures in the medical world etc. Science
gives pupils the tools to investigate and experiment, increasing their ability to analyse
and make sense of the world around them. Science develops curiosity and
understanding of cause and effect, of living organisms, environment, health etc. It
increases the awareness of the interrelationship between man and nature. Science
contributes to an understanding of the use and the limitation of natural resources, and
in a wider perspective develops and furthers the enjoyment of nature. Moreover
science in a national perspective paves the way for technological progress, the impact
of which transcends national frontiers.

The proposed aggregated indicator is taken from the TIMSS. Data exist for 20 EU and
acceding countries, so at the level of comparability the indicator offers good coverage.




9
  Université Paul et Marie Curie (Paris VI): Feasibility study for the construction of European
indicators    of reading      literacy free    of cultural    bias.  For    more    information:
http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/poledu/qua-15.html


                                                                                              7
As was the case for the indicator on Mathematics, in the medium/long-term
perspective indicators from the PISA survey will be available (results of first survey
circle will be published during autumn 2001). Moreover “TIMSS- repeat” is being
administered to eight-grade students in about 40 countries and the results will be
available in 2001.

Foreign languages
Proficiency in several Community languages has become a prerequisite if citizens of
the European Union are to benefit from the occupational and personal opportunities
open to them in the border-free single market. It is, to say the least, paradoxical that
people and ideas circulate less freely within today’s Europe than capital and goods.
The benefits of mobility for people are indisputable - it is an opportunity for
invaluable personal and professional experiences. Language proficiency is a key
instrument of understanding between the citizens of Europe and for exploiting the rich
European cultural inheritance. Therefore the knowledge of foreign languages becomes
a key political issue.

In a medium-long term strategy, this is an area of great interest for the European
Union. There are experiences that could be used as a basis for further development
work - for instance the study on the effectiveness of the teaching of English in the
European Union10, or the DIA-LANG11 project developing tests on language
proficiency.

Learning to learn
Learning to learn involves the development of a generalised set of tools and skills that
support the process of learning in many different contexts (also in intercultural
context like the European Union). The flow of new information and the rise of
international co-operation have increased the importance of those skills, which enable
people to survive in the extended and rapidly changing world of work and to take
advantage of new educational opportunities. The rapidity and complexity of these
changes demand a closer connection between school education and lifelong/recurrent
education through the acquisition of “hard” and lasting cross-curriculum or process
competencies. All these competencies (cognitive, metacognitive, motivational and
social) can also be described as strategic and self-regulatory skills which young
people need in order to be able to succeed in academic work and in life beyond
school.



10
   Direction de l'évaluation et de la prospective Ministère de l'Education nationale: The effectiveness of
the teaching of English in the European Union- report of the colloquium (October 1997): The study
also presented international comparisons of pupil’s assessment results in English derived from a joint
project in (a) France, Spain and Sweden and (b) a joint assessment project in Sweden and Finland. For
more information: http://www.education.gouv.fr/dpd/colloq/
11
   DIALANG brings something new to the language-testing scene by producing, for a large number of
European languages, a diagnostically oriented assessment system that combines self-assessment with
external assessment. It produces a profile of the client's language skills in terms of the Council of
Europe proficiency scale, and does this by using computer-based testing. The test will be developed for
14 languages: the 11 Official languages of the Union plus Irish, Norwegian and Icelandic. For more
information: http://www.jyu.fi/DIALANG/general.html.


                                                                                                        8
The area of learning to learn, as a pivotal set of skills closely tied to the concept of
lifelong learning, is the key to controlling one’s future on a professional and personal
level.

No comparable international data exists, but national surveys on learning to learn
skills have been carried out for example in Finland.

In the medium term, we could base indicators on OECD (PISA), where the first and
second survey cycle includes an instrument for the measurement of self-regulated
learning. Within the Socrates programme a co-operation project between nine
countries evaluates a Finnish learning to learn test, and considers how parts of this test
could be used for European purposes12.

ICT
A broad consensus is emerging that technological progress in the field of information
and communication technologies will deeply affect the structure of human societies.
The information society will not only open up new channels of communication
amongst people, but it is likely to have a considerable impact on the way we live,
work, consume, interact with government as well as express and entertain ourselves.
Moreover ICT is a means for effective learning through the use of educational
software that presents and teaches material in an effective, lively, and interactive way.
Pupils’ skills in this area are therefore of critical importance as they reflect the
adequacy of the educational system in preparing its citizens to function effectively in
the future and to meet the challenges that the new technologies will put before them.

No recent data in this rapidly changing area exist13. However EURYDICE (Key Data
on Education 1997) is taking stock of ICT-policies in Member States and the pre-
accession countries. In addition, the Commission, based on two council resolutions, is
preparing a report14 for the Council meeting in November 1999. Finally, SITES15 will
provide more descriptive information regarding the status of ICT in schools. These
texts could be used to describe the area and raise central policy questions.

In the medium term, we could base our indicators on OECD (PISA), where the first
survey cycle includes an instrument on students familiarity with information
technology.




12
   National Board of Education, Finland: Developing Definitions for European indicators for cross-
curriculum competencies. For more information: http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/poledu/qua-
17.html.
13
   IEA conducted the CompEd (Computers in Education) in 1989 and 1992, where representative
samples of students and teachers were tested regarding their computer knowledge.
14
   European Commission (November 1999): “Penser l’Education de demain et promouvoir l’innovation
avec les nouvelles technologies”
15
   IEA: Second International Information Technology in Education Study. The result of the study,
which will contain international comparative quantitative information about the current state of ICT
implementation, will be published 19. November 1999. In a future phase of this study, competencies of
students and teachers will be tested.


                                                                                                   9
Civics
All societies have a continuing interest in the way their young people are prepared for
citizenship, and how they learn to take part in public affairs. The increased
complexity of society leaves many young people sceptical vis-à-vis the political
establishment and conventional democratic articulation. In most European Countries,
the political parties are loosing their public backing - this is particularly true for the
younger generation. The tendency is instead to concentrate on a few “causes” like
ecology, environment, third world etc. The question of what effective citizenship
means (including in a European perspective) and the role of formal education in
building a civic culture is of importance not only to governments and policy makers
but also to the public in general.

Two indicators are proposed from the opinion poll Eurobarometer 199716, where
young people were asked about: 1. Participation in the community, 2. What the
European Union means. The coverage is limited to the EU-countries.

A first report on the results of IEA’s Civics Study is expected by February 2001. The
survey is based on several thousand students in the modal grade for 14-year-olds. This
study will eventually be complemented by a survey looking specifically at knowledge
(i.e. knowledge of European institutions and procedures; knowledge of the main
ecological problems) values and attitudes (i.e. towards the European Union,
multiethnicity/social cohesion, environmental safeguard etc) in a European context.


4.2    Success and transition
Three statistical outcome measures have been selected. These measures are often used
as benchmarks in political debate and increasing or decreasing rates are seen as
important measures of the quality of the education system.

Dropout rates
Europe has experienced difficult adjustment in the last decades. The development of
our economies and the constraints of competitiveness have led to several categories of
the population being left by the wayside. This has also resulted in a large number of
young people who do not have qualifications which meet market needs and who are
unemployed. Moreover the individual is not influenced by the school’s attempt to
cultivate character, to foster democratic values and citizenship behaviours and the
individual loses contact with the peer group of the school. Dropouts are often
dependent upon social benefits of various kinds; they may be on training courses and
schemes, but with uncertain future prospects. The ability of an educational system to
minimise the number of dropouts is a strong indication of its efficiency both in
dealing with school failure and in responding to the needs and challenges of the
labour market.




16
     European Commission (1997): The Young Europeans, Eurobarometer 47.2.


                                                                                       10
The best available proxy for measuring dropout rates comes from the EUROSTAT
labour force survey. It is the share of the total population of 18-24 years olds having
achieved ISCED level 2 (lower secondary education) or less and not attending
education or training. The indicator is also used for monitoring the employment
guideline concerning dropouts17. At present the labour market survey covers 15 EU-
countries Romania, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, and Czech-republic. Data
should be available from the rest of the Phare countries in 1999.


Completion of upper secondary education
Completion rates from secondary education are important indications of successful
education systems. Completion of secondary education is considered the minimum for
successful labour market entry, and it allows students access to higher education
learning and training opportunities. Moreover it can be considered a minimum for
taking part in a democratic society, where the internationalisation of trade, the global
context of technology, and above all, the arrival of information technology have made
societies increasingly complex. Taking part in the learning society requires the basic
building blocks of a secondary education.


The data is from the EUROSTAT (labour force survey) as presented in Key Data on
Education in the European Union 1997 (EURYDICE). At present the labour market
survey covers 15 EU-countries plus Romania, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia,
and Czech-republic. Data should be available from the rest of the Phare countries in
Key Data on Education 1999 (EURYDICE) as well.


Participation rates in tertiary education
Higher education is becoming necessary to cope with the demands of the increasingly
global labour market and to avoid the trap of competing with low-wage countries.
From both the individual’s and society’s point of view, education is the means to
taking part in the high value added international industries. The number of students in
tertiary education is therefore of interest.

Participation rates in tertiary education is published in the EUROSTAT publication
"Education across the European Union 1998 - Statistics and Indicators"18. Since no
single meaningful measure exists, participation rates per age group is used. From the
1999 edition PHARE countries will also be included and the title of the publication
will be changed to "Education in Europe".




17
   The 1999 employment guidelines- Council resolution of 22 February 1999. In the 1999 employment
guidelines, guideline 7 indicates “improve the quality of their school systems in order to reduce
substantially the number of young people who drop out of the school system early. Particular attention
should also be given to young people with learning difficulties”.
18
   The indicator is coming from the joint UNESCO-OECD-EUROSTAT (UOE) data collection.


                                                                                                   11
4.3.    Monitoring of school education

When we talk about stakeholder participation and evaluation of systems there is
probably no direct link to quality. In these two categories we have selected indicators
that we believe are of central importance for the political debate. These indicators are
of a descriptive nature, but they are selected to instigate debate, and help exchange
information and ideas around issues that are high on the political agenda.

Parents participation
Most European educational systems have experienced great changes over the last two
decades. One of the main forces at work is decentralisation. By decentralisation we
mean that a larger degree of decision-making power is devolved to local levels of the
education system. The idea behind the process of decentralisation is that decisions are
best taken by those most concerned with the outcome of the decision decisions.
Decentralisation is a question of empowering actors at lower level. Making them
responsible for defining what they understand by quality in education and giving them
“ownership” of part of the education system. The importance of involving parents as
partners in the education of their children, at all stages, is widely recognised. It is
essential if children are to achieve their full potential at school. Effective schools
welcome parents sharing their skills and interests with their children at home and in
the school. Education for democracy “must practice what it preaches”. How good are
schools at involving parents, students, and external communities (i.e. local
community, business etc.) in the decision-making procedures?

The proposed descriptive indicator comes from “Key Data on Education in the
European Union-1999” (EURYDICE): Powers of school-level bodies which include
representatives of parents in 5 areas (school rules, drafting development plan, setting
teaching syllabus and objectives, control of expenditure and allocation of the
budget)19.

A future perspective could be the establishment of an indicator that analyses the
influence of all stakeholders in the decision-making procedures of the school.

Evaluation and steering of school education
The process of decentralisation is often seen as positive and inevitable, but the process
poses problems as well. Since it is the responsibility of the state to offer adequate
education to all there is the problem of ensuring that the lower levels of a
decentralised system are actually fulfilling this objective. There are basically two
perspectives for quality evaluation, namely external and self-evaluation.




19
  A seven-country study on successful strategies for the promotion of parental participation in schools
can provide input to the analysis of this area. The study was co-financed by action 3.3.1. of the
Socrates programme and conducted by HM Inspectors of Schools Scottish Office Education and
Industry Department. For more information: http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/poledu/qua-13.html


                                                                                                    12
External evaluation can be understood as the central levels needed to control and
guide, while self-evaluation is empowering schools themselves to undertake the task
posed by the process of decentralisation. External evaluation and self-evaluation
complement each other as sources of valuable information for the school.

The proposed indicators is from “Key Data on Education in the European Union-
1999” (EURYDICE) – 1. Obligation to publish a school plan and 2. Global
publication of external tests and examination results20.

A future perspective could be an indicator that analyses how external and self-
evaluation complement and support each other as instruments of school improvement.


4.4    Resources and structures
Two of the indicators selected in this area (human resources and structures of
education) are not providing any direct links to quality. They are included because
they are high on the political agenda and are factors which policy makers can
influence.

Educational expenditure per student
The share of total financial resources devoted to education is a key decision for
national governments. It is an investment decision with long-term returns, but most
governments see it as an answer to several political challenges such as social
cohesion, international competition, and sustainable growth.

The proposed indicator - educational expenditure per student in relation to GDP per
capita - refers to data published by OECD. Eighteen EU and acceding countries are
covered.


Education and training of teachers
Teachers provide a service of increasing importance for the development of our
societies. The role of teachers is becoming more multi-faceted, because it increasingly
incorporates social, behavioural, civic, economic and technological dimensions.
Teaching is an activity that can be viewed less and less from within a subject
disciplinary logic, but many teachers do not have the training or experience to cope
with this greatly extended role. While teachers have to face up to new challenges
posed by changed social and economic conditions, it is clear that they should benefit
from high quality initial training, supported by induction processes in their early
period as teachers and be supported throughout their careers by varied forms of in-
service training and professional development.




20
  A European Pilot Project on Quality Evaluation in school education involving 101 schools in 18
countries can provide input to the analysis of this area. For more information:
http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg22/poledu/indb-en.html


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The indicator applied provides information on the pedagogical and practical training
as a proportion of the total duration of initial education and training. The data is
published in “Key Data on Education in the European Union-1999” and in the report,
secondary education in the European Union: Structures, Organisation and
Administration –1997 EURYDICE.

A future perspective could be to work towards the establishment of an indicator on
teacher competencies. Currently a project on teaching skills is being funded by the
Commission21.

Participation rates in pre-primary education
The age at which education begins varies between the Member States. The changing
role of the family as a social institution often means that parents (or a parent) are no
longer at home full time and are therefore not able to provide an educational and
social environment. Pre-school education is a highly debated issue in Europe, but
most agree that the early childhood experience has a determining influence on the
development of personality and on subsequent social integration. Some argue that
children should play as long as possible, while others argue that pre-school education
is essential to facilitate children’s' transition to primary schools. In any case,
enrolment rates have been increasing markedly during the last 30-40 years in almost
all European countries.

The proposed indicator “participation rates in education-oriented pre-primary
provision by age” is from EUROSTAT and is published in “Key Data on Education in
the European Union-1997” (EURYDICE).

For a longer-term perspective, several indicators are discussed. One locus of
discussion is the establishment of an indicator on the degree of autonomy in different
education system.

Number of students per computer
The new information technologies are a source of both concern and fascination. They
open up new apparently unlimited possibilities for human communication. The
integration between different communication media will probably change our
environment to a significant extent. Education and science cannot stay on the
sidelines. They will have to redefine their roles and become a decisive element in
optimising the use of these technologies. Availability of computers is the first
condition for taking part in the “revolution”.




21
   Quality improvement of teaching skills through development of a European evaluation instruments
(1998-2000): The main aim of the project is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of
European school education through focusing on “teaching skills” rather than “teaching competence”.
The development of a uniform instrument to measure “skills” defined as “the classroom behaviour of
the teacher” of European teachers is expected to contribute to enhance greater intra-European mobility
of teachers.


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The proposed indicator “Average number of students per computer in schools where
8th-grade students are enrolled” is from TIMSS, IEA22.




22
     IEA: SITES (see note on ICT-literacy) will furthermore provide information for this area.


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                                  REFERENCES

   Cronbach, L.J. (1980), Toward reform of program evaluation, San Francisco
    (JOSSEY-BASS).

   European Commission [Education and Culture], Second Progress Report on
    Indicators and Benchmarks of Quality of School Education, October 1999.

   Fay, R.G. (1996), What can we learn from evaluations of active labour market
    policies undertaken in OECD countries? The case of training, in: Evaluation of
    european training and human resource programmes, Thessaloniki (CEDEFOP), p.
    111-113.

   Guba, E. & Lincoln, Y. (1990), Fourth generation evaluation, London (SAGE).

   Mc Beath et al., Evaluating quality in school education. A European pilot project,
    European Commission / Education training, youth, June 1999.

   Patton, M.Q. (1989), Qualitative evaluation methods, London (SAGE).

   Seviven, M. (1994), Evaluation ideologies, in: Conner, D., Altman, G., Jackson,
    C. (eds), Evaluation studies, vol. 9, p. 49-80, Beverly Hills (CA: SAGE).




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