Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Paulo Santiago
Paulo Santiago
Senior Analyst in the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Paulo Santiago, a Portuguese national, is a Senior Analyst in the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, where he has been since 2000. He was the co-ordinator of a 3-year review of evaluation and assessment policy at the school level, which led to the OECD publication “Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment”, published in 2013. He is currently the co-ordinator of a review of effectiveness of resource use in schools and has also assumed responsibility for major cross-country reviews of teacher policy and higher education policy. The responses he provides are based on the conclusions published in “Synergies for Better Learning”.

The three things I’ve learned

Evaluation has no value if it does not improve classroom practice and student learning
1

Focussing on the improvement of classroom practices

To optimise the potential of evaluation to improve what is at the heart of education – student learning – policy makers should promote the regular use of evaluation results for improvements in the classroom. Evaluation has no value if it does not lead to the improvement of classroom practice and student learning. Channels which are likely to reinforce links to classroom practice include: an emphasis on teacher evaluation for the improvement of teaching practices; conceiving school self-evaluation as a collective process with responsibilities for teachers; focussing school evaluation on the quality of teaching and learning; promoting the appraisal of the pedagogical leadership of school leaders; ensuring that teachers are seen as the main experts in student assessment; building teacher capacity for student formative assessment; and building teachers’ ability to assess against educational standards.

2

Effectively conceiving the accountability uses of evaluation results

By holding teachers, school leaders and schools responsible for results, accountability systems intend to create incentives for improved performance. At the same time, high-stakes uses of evaluation results might lead to distortions in the education process (for example, teaching to the test or narrowing the curriculum). Evaluation might be perceived as an instrument to “control” and the development function of evaluation might be hindered. As a result, it is important to design the accountability uses of evaluation results in such a way these undesired effects are minimised. This involves safeguards against excessive emphasis on particular measures; communicating that the ultimate objective of evaluation is to enhance student outcomes; ensuring that the publication of quantitative data is perceived as fair by schools; and conceiving individual performance-based rewards as career advancement opportunities.

3

Strengthening analysis of education system evaluation results for planning and policy development

A priority should be the strengthening of the analysis for educational planning and policy development. Education authorities should promote analytical studies and innovative research about key issues such as the factors which explain student performance and the impact of the socio-economic background on student results. Education authorities could also sponsor research undertaken by independent researchers which is deemed useful for educational policy. Another possibility is to require evaluation agencies or external school evaluation bodies to include thematic national evaluations among their responsibilities. These comprehensive reviews of issues such as professional development of teachers, bullying and harassment in schools, and the teaching of mathematics, would involve reviewing practices across a sample of schools in the country and the production of a national level report.

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