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France:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

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Overview France

Contents

France:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

France:Historical Development

France:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

France:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

France:Political and Economic Situation

France:Organisation and Governance

France:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

France:Lifelong Learning Strategy

France:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

France:Organisation of Private Education

France:National Qualifications Framework

France:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

France:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

France:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

France:Funding in Education

France:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

France:Higher Education Funding

France:Adult Education and Training Funding

France:Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Primary Education

France:Organisation of Primary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

France:Assessment in Primary Education

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

France:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Higher Education

France:Types of Higher Education Institutions

France:First Cycle Programmes

France:Bachelor

France:Short-Cycle Higher Education

France:Second Cycle Programmes

France:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

France:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

France:Adult Education and Training

France:Distribution of Responsibilities

France:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

France:Main Providers

France:Main Types of Provision

France:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

France:Teachers and Education Staff

France:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

France:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Management and Other Education Staff

France:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

France:Management Staff for Higher Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Quality Assurance

France:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

France:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

France:Educational Support and Guidance

France:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

France:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

France:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

France:Mobility and Internationalisation

France:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Mobility in Higher Education

France:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

France:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

France:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

France:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:National Reforms in School Education

France:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

France:National Reforms in Higher Education

France:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

France:European Perspective

France:Legislation

France:Glossary

Responsible Bodies

A number of actors take part in quality assurance at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels.

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Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR)

CNESCO

The National Council for School System Evaluation (CNESCO - Conseil National d’Evaluation du Système Scolaire), attached to the MENESR, was set up by virtue of the law of 8 July 2013 bearing on restructuring the school system. CNESCO’s 14 members include well-known scientists, experts on France’s and foreign education systems, and partners from the world of education. It is responsible for drawing up evaluations of the school system’s operation and disseminating results of pupil assessments and evaluations of educational resources and policies, as well as for assessing methodologies implemented by the Department’s internal evaluators and by international bodies – having sole authority to do so.

Central government

Departmental Directorates: DGESCO and DEPP

The primary responsibility entrusted to theGeneral Directorate of School Education (DGESCO - Direction Générale de l’Enseignement Scolaire) is the drafting of educational and pedagogical policy and of primary and secondary teaching programmes. It is also responsible for budgetary programmes relating to primary and secondary State education and school life, in compliance with the finance laws in force. In addition, it sets policy with regard to priority education, fostering and evaluating its implementation. In the context of the contractualisation initiative at regional education authority level, it sets such bodies’ goals insofar as they concern its competences and evaluates their results.

The Directorate for Assessment, Forward Planning and Performance (DEPP - Direction de l'Evaluation, de la Prospective et de la Performance) is primarily a monitoring body, responsible for producing statistics as well as for carrying out expert assessments and assisting the MENESR. Set up in 1987 and originally entitled the Directorate for Assessment and Forward Planning, it was assigned the further competence of “performance” in 2006, the year in which the LOLF (Organic Law relative to Finance Laws) came into force. The DEPP drafts and carries out evaluations and surveys, specialising in assessment of pupils, ways of implementing educational schemes, and teaching practices. The Directorate calculates performance indicators and is also responsible for monitoring priority education institutions and supplying indicators appropriate to the policy concerned.

Inspectorates General: IGEN and IGAENR

Set up in 1802, the Inspectorate General for National Education (IGEN - Inspection Générale de l’Education Nationale) is responsible for monitoring, studying and evaluating the education system’s operation and effectiveness. Its evaluations focus particularly on types of training, programmes, teaching content, teaching methods, and procedures and resources implemented. It also assesses management, teaching and inspectorate staff, as well as taking part in evaluation missions alongside other departmental, regional education authority and international bodies. Its sphere of competence does not include research. In 2013-2014, the IGEN was made up of 152 inspectors divided into 14 permanent specialised groups (source: Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research).

Created in 1965 and accorded new status in 1999, the Inspectorate General for National Education and Research (IGAENR - Inspection Générale de l’Administration de l’Education Nationale et de la Recherche) monitors, studies and evaluates the higher education system. It participates in one-off missions with the IGEN. Its reorganisation in 1999 extended its sphere of competence to research. It also evaluates educational and research staff, in administrative, financial, accounting, economic and organisational fields in particular. Like the IGEN, the IGAENR operates alongside other departmental, regional and foreign authorities. In 2013-2014, there were 88 IGAENRs divided up into 6 territorial groups in  France (source: Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research).

Regional Education Authorities

Regional Inspectors: IEN and IA-IPR

The current status of regional inspectorates dates back to 1990, but local pedagogical inspectorates have long been in existence. Although assigned to specific territories, the inspectors concerned are State officials.

National Education Inspectors (IEN- Inspecteurs de l’Education Nationale) help manage the education system at regional education authority (académie) level. Those “responsible for primary education catchment” (IEN-CCPD - Chargés de Circonscription du Premier Degré) account for 68% of their number, while 24% are responsible for overseeing technical and general secondary education (IEN-ET and IEN-EG) dispensed in vocational schools, 6% are responsible for information and guidance and 2% act as advisors to Chief Education Officers. In 2013-2014, there were 635 IENs in activity (source: Annual Performance Projects – Annex to the draft Finance Law) for a total of some 15 million pupils (source: RERS, p. 22).

Regional Pedagogical Inspectors (IA-IPR Inspecteurs d’Académie - Inspecteurs Pédagogiques Régionaux) oversee secondary education, carrying out their work in the context of regional education authorities’ work programmes, either individually or in groups depending on subject or speciality (history/geography, English, administration and school life, etc.). They are under the authority of their area’s Chief Education Officer and work in liaison with Inspectorates General. Their competences only extend to secondary level. 84% of such inspectors are responsible for overseeing the teaching of specific subjects at secondary level and 16% work as Regional Education Authority Directors/Assistant Directors of National Education Services or technical advisors to Chief Education Officers. Among other things, IEN and IA-IPR competences with regard to evaluation cover teaching content, teachers and schools. In 2013-2014, there were 1174 such inspectors (source: Annual Performance Projects – Annex to the draft Finance Law).

Chief Education Officers and DASEN

The Department’s deconcentrated services are under the authority of Chief Education Officers (Recteurs). At regional level, they consist of Local Education Offices (Rectorats) and, at départemental level, of Directorates of Départemental National Education Services. Chief Education Officers play a key role in concluding contracts between the central government and regional education authorities.

Regional Education Authority Directors of National Education Services (DASEN - Directeurs Académiques des Services de l'Education Nationale) are responsible for implementing Chief Education Officers’ strategies at départemental level.

Among other things, DASENs are responsible for evaluating school heads and for setup of contracts between regional education authorities and schools.

Regional Education Authority Statistics Departments (SSA- Services Statistiques Académiques)

These are responsible for coordinating implementation of the Department’s statistical surveys at Regional Education Authority level. They also make use of databases on their catchment area’s pupils and schools and draft summary analyses based on such statistical data.

Research teams

Generally speaking, The Department of National Education itself entrusts evaluation missions to research teams. Three bodies in particular stand out: theFrench Institute of Education (IFE – Institut Français de l’Education), theInstitute for Research on the Sociology and Economics of Education (IREDU - Institut de Recherche sur l’Education: Sociologie et Economie de l’Education) and the Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ – Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Qualifications).

The IFE, which is part of the Lyons Ecole Normale Supérieure but is under its own management, took over from the former National Institute for Pedagogical Research (INRP – Institut National de la Recherche Pédagogique) following the latter’s dissolution in 2010. Among other things, it assists in the management and assessment of education policies in France and in international organisations. The IREDU is a mixed research unit associated with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and the University of Bourgogne. It enjoys a national and international reputation in the field of research on the economics of education. More recently, the Institute extended its sphere of competence to include other humanist disciplines in which education sciences interact with economics, psychology and sociology. It makes use of quantitative research methodologies that are rarely employed in France. Evaluation of schools is among its research focuses, along with analysis of public policies and governance of education systems, and assessment of such educational problems as school dropout and inequality of success. CEREQ is under the direct aegis of the MENESR and the Department of Labour, Employment, Professional Training and Social Dialogue. Its main focus is the training/employment relationship, and it has devoted considerable evaluation work to the question of integration of young people into the job market. 

The Court of Auditors and Parliament

The Court of Auditors

The Court of Auditors was founded in 1807 and is the Republic’s highest authority in the realm of public finances. Traditionally responsible for pronouncing judgement on accounting management, its sphere of competence now includes assessment of public policies, including those on education – a responsibility assigned to it by the Constitutional Law of 23 July 2008 bearing on modernisation of the 5th Republic’s institutions, and in fulfilment of which it assists Parliament. The Court of Auditors tackled the subject of priority education in its budgetary report “Analyses of the execution of the State budget by mission and programme – financial year 2011 – interministerial mission: School Education”, published in May 2012.

Parliament

Evaluating public policies is also one of Parliament’s responsibilities by virtue of Article 24 of the Constitutional Law of 2008. It carries out this particular task through a crosscutting body belonging to the National Assembly, the “Committee for Evaluation and Monitoring of Public Policies”, set up in 2008. The many parliamentary reports published over the last few decades have added to public debate on education.

Other national authorities

The FEJ

Set up in 2009 by virtue of Article 25 of Law no.2008-1249 of 1 December 2008, the Experimental Fund for Youth (FEJ - Fonds d’Expérimentation pour la Jeunesse) is designed to finance experimental programmes, bringing in external evaluators to assess their quality. Such programmes aim to foster pupils’ success at school, contribute to equality of opportunities, and improve sustainable social and professional integration of young people under the age of 25. The FEJ did not finance any educational projects in 2014.  

The IGF and the HCI

The Inspectorate General of Finances (IGF - Inspection Générale des Finances) participates in evaluating schools alongside the Inspectorates General of Education. The Higher Council for Integration (HCIHaut Conseil à l’Intégration) contributes to questions connected with integration and immigration.

Observatories and expert assessment networks

These various bodies also contribute to the evaluation of the education system as “second-tier” actors, most of them having no more or less regular official mission of evaluation or standing as evaluators. Apart from such union organisations as the Federation of Parents of State School Pupils (PEEPFédération des Parents d’Elèves de l’Enseignement Public), other institutions include the National Academy of Medicine and theParis School of Economics (PSE). Largely or totally financed by public funds, they evaluate the education system through one-off theme-based reports. “Ideas laboratories” in the proper sense of the term are rather rarer, but well worth mentioning is theMontaigne Institute, a product of civil society although regarded as being closely connected with the French Enterprises Movement (MEDEFMouvement des Entreprises de France), an employers’ organisation representing the heads of French companies. The Institute’s work makes significant additions to public debate, in particular on the subject of failure at school.

International bodies

With regard to international bodies, the DEPP participates on France’s behalf in the work of the OECD, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), UNESCO and Eurydice. Such international-level evaluations enable the French education system to compare itself with those of other participating countries.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

The following diagram presents the main focuses of quality assurance in education:

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The French education system is evaluated by a disparate group of initiatives seeking to take account of its quality. The design and development of evaluation methods involves collaborations between a wide variety of actors. This being so, it is difficult to speak of any real coherence in the description of methods for quality assurance in education, for at least two reasons: first of all, France combines evaluation practices implemented at a variety of historical periods; and secondly, the sheer number of initiatives involved forestalls any immediate overall vision of quality assurance in education.     

Individuals

Teachers

Whether civil servants or contractual staff under public or private law, primary and secondary school teachers are evaluated by regional inspectors, who work within the framework of the regional educational authority project (projet académique) drawn up by the Chief Education Officer. Drafted in line with the project’s orientations, the regional education authority work programme (PTAProgramme  de TravailAcadémique) defined by the Chief Education Officer and the Inspectorate General’s regional correspondent, establishes the regional authority’s pedagogical and educational priorities, setting the inspectors concerned quantitative and qualitative goals with regard to improvement of teaching quality and scholastic results. The PTA details objectives by subject and by speciality.

Teachers are evaluated at various stages in their careers: at the time of their competitive examination (concours) for entering the profession, at the end of their traineeship placement with a view to their being granted tenure, and at differing intervals in the course of their professional lives. Such irregular frequency of evaluation does little to encourage improvement of teaching practices and is not always adapted to teachers’ training needs. The average interval between two visits is between three and four years for primary teachers and from six to seven years for secondary school teachers –a fact that takes on yet greater significance in that evaluation affects career advancement and, consequently, salary levels.

Inspectors can also visit primary and secondary schools in order to meet teachers and assess the “sociocultural environment” in which they work. Observations bearing on professional conditions are incorporated into inspection reports.

Evaluations, proposed scores and scoring of teachers fall within the competence of school heads, inspectorates, and the Department of National Education and its deconcentrated services (regional education offices). Three aspects of professional practice are assessed and scored by school heads: “assiduity/punctuality”, “authority” and “standing”. Pedagogical inspection provides an opportunity to take a critical look at the quality and effectiveness of teaching dispensed, as well as its compliance with programmes and reforms. The school head’s administrative mark accounts for 40% of the overall score, with the inspection accounting for 60 %.

Prior to an administrative or pedagogical evaluation, the teacher is asked to complete a preparatory questionnaire covering various points concerning him/herself, including ongoing training needs, his/her class’s results in local and national evaluations, and level of achievement of school project goals.

The school head enjoys little latitude as an evaluator. In all cases, it is the inspector who scores pedagogical performance and the head who allocates the administrative score. Self-assessment and peer assessment practices are almost non-existent.

Finally, evaluation of teachers has little correlation with pupil evaluation. The former naturally enough focuses on judging teaching quality, but does almost nothing to check how far teachers contribute to their pupils’ progress in acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Primary (ISCED 0 and 1) and secondary (ISCED 2 and 3) school heads

Primary school heads

They are evaluated as teachers as well as administrators. As primary schools are not autonomous, their heads’ responsibilities are limited. In theory at least, they are evaluated by their National Education Inspector (IEN) “responsible for primary education catchment” every three years. After visiting the school, the IEN concerned interviews the head in order to assess his/her work in three areas: the school’s administrative management, pedagogical coordination and relationship-building. The interview focuses on relations with teachers, local officials and parents. The IEN drafts a report based on the interview, which is sent to the départemental DASEN. The report includes the head’s score and assessment and, if required, any proposals for possible changes in career path (advancement or transfer). After reading the report, the DASEN decides whether or not to keep the head in his/her present post, and may approve his/her advancement.

Secondary school heads

Heads of State secondary schools are evaluated every three years by their départemental DASEN. When they are assigned to a new school, and every three years afterwards, they must supply the DASEN with a diagnosis comprising an overall analysis of their school and its operation along with proposals for setup of three medium-term axes of progress. The school’s APAE performance indicators (see below) must also be included. After analysing the diagnosis, the DASEN interviews the school head with a view to their determining the context and goals of action to be undertaken, taking account of proposed axes of progress. The interview is followed up by a mission letter being sent to the school head by the DASEN. At the end of the three years of action, the head is again summoned to an interview with the DASEN in order to evaluate work done and results obtained with regard to the goals set out in the mission letter. The head must draft an activity report beforehand and send it to the DASEN a few days before the date of the interview. The head is evaluated on his/her activity report and achievement of goals set in the mission letter, as well as on his/her running of the school. The head receives an assessment of each of these fields, which may be complemented by the DASEN’s remarks and/or recommendations.

Education system units

Primary schools (ISCED 0 and 1)

In 2010, the IGENs in the primary education group drafted a protocol for evaluating primary schools which is used by a number of regional education authorities. It consists of finding a correlation between individual inspections of teachers and collective evaluation of the school, assessing the effectiveness of educational and pedagogical action taken with regard to pupils’ results through observing teachers’ pedagogical practices in their classrooms and then collectively. The aim of such evaluations is to recentre schools’ practices around teachers’ collective work in order to analyse and understand the parameters likely to explain pupils’ results – their successes as well as the problems they encounter.

After taking stock of the school as a whole, the inspectors meet with its head and then its teaching team. Such meetings enable them to round out their overall assessment of the school and make heads and teachers fully aware of the importance of diagnosing the school’s situation and of self-assessment practices.

In the second evaluation phase, the inspector and his/her pedagogical advisors observe teachers at work in their classrooms, teachers’ collective work, and pupils’ peri- and para-scholastic activities. The evaluation results in an oral report on conclusions drawn being made to the school head and teachers and a written report being sent to the Regional Education Office.

Evaluating secondary schools (ISCED 2 and 3)

Evaluations of secondary schools (ISCED 2 and 3) are set up by their boards of trustees under the management of the school head and in liaison with the inspectors concerned. School heads have the use of tools developed and made available by the DEPP: Aids to Management and Self-Assessment (APAE - Aides au Pilotage et à l’Auto-Evaluation), Indicators for Lycées’ Added Value (IVAL – Indicateurs de Valeur Ajoutée des Lycées) and Indicators for Collèges’ Added Value (IVAC– Indicateurs de Valeur Ajoutée des Collèges). Enactment of the LOLF has added weight to this form of evaluation: henceforth an objectives contract for each school sets goals to be reach within a given number of years. These indicators, which are specified in the contract, enable assessment of how far such goals have been achieved.

APAE indicators (which replaced the Indicators for Management of Secondary Schools [IPES – Indicateurs pour le Pilotage des Etablissements du Second Degré] in 2012) are essentially designed for school heads and inspectors and are not made public. They supply information on the characteristics of the school’s population, its human resources and timetabling constraints, as well as on its overall performance. This latter is identified with the help of “added value”, which measures the school’s actual effectiveness (“school effect” / “effet-établissement”) and enables characterisation of its “type” (selective or otherwise). The “school effect” shows how far it manages to achieve a high success rate among pupils in their final year and to ensure pupils (from their first to final year of upper secondary education) a successful three- or four-year course of study. Data is collected over five school years and enables the school to be measured at départemental, regional education authority and national level.

IVAL

These three indicators were developed before the APAE indicators drawn up by the DEPP and are now incorporated into them. They seek to evaluate each lycée’s specific action – i.e. what the lycée has “added” to its pupils’ initial level. These indicators are published and may be consulted on the Department of National Education’s website: http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid3014/les-indicateurs-de-resultats-des lycees.html#Pourquoi_publier%20des%20indicateurs%20de%20r%C3%A9sultats%20?.

Lycée result indicators have a threefold goal. They must report on results obtained within the national State education system and supply its lycées’ administrators and teachers with food for thought to help them improve the effectiveness of their actions. Parents may also obtain information on the lycées their children attend by consulting the website. IVAL indicators are as follows:

  • Success rate at the baccalaureate. This is the most traditional, best-known and most easily established indicator. It compares the number of a lycée’s pupils passing the baccalaureate to the total number who sat for the exam.
  • Rate of access to the baccalaureate. This indicator evaluates how likely it is that a pupil in the first or second year of study for a vocational baccalaureate will pass the exam at the end of a course of study entirely carried out at the lycée, however many years are required. This indicator takes account of all schooling taking place at the lycée, and consequently of all pupils therein likely to complete their secondary education successfully, even if they have to repeat one or more years in order to do so. It also takes account of children who had to leave the lycée before completing their secondary education, regarding them as pupils that the school has not known how to, not wanted to or not been able to lead to the baccalaureate. The access rate would therefore seem a good deal more relevant than the baccalaureate success rate in assessing a lycée’s effectiveness.
  • The percentage of pupils leaving school who have passed the baccalaureate. This indicator shows what percentage of pupils leaving the school do so with a baccalaureate to their credit. It compares the total number of school-leavers (including those with baccalaureates) with the number leaving with baccalaureates, whether they passed the exam at first try or after one or more repeated sittings.

Recourse to these indicators enables schools themselves to formulate a clear picture of their added value.

IVAC

IVAC indicators were calculated for the 2012 session. Methodological work on their improvement (study of educational paths after the final year of lower secondary education, taking composition effects into account, etc.) is currently underway, and they should finally serve to establish collège typology along the same lines as the IVAL model.

Regional Education Authorities

Contractualisation is a way of setting quantified goals that enables regional education authorities to highlight their added value by emphasising the room left for improvement in ensuring pupils’ success. In return, the central government allows regional authorities greater flexibility. The contractualisation policy gives actors in the field increased autonomy and responsibility. Dialogue between the central government and regional education authority officials is renewed every year, enabling them to analyse a diagnosis together and presentation of a strategy covering all Department programmes.

The Mélusine application provides a digital means of sharing some 400 indicators between the central government and regional education authorities. Among other things, it publishes LOLF programme indicators for the “school education” mission, as well as a number of context indicators and regional education authority summary sheets. The application also enables assessment of regional authority and départemental results along with the effectiveness and efficiency of policies implemented by regional education authorities. The software generates a “performance radar” by which a regional authority can compare itself at national level from the viewpoint of context (advantaged or disadvantaged), resources allocated and results obtained.

Education policies

Experiments

Education policies implemented to improve pupils’ success rates and the education system’s results are essentially evaluated by Departmental directorates, the Inspectorates General for National Education and for National Education and Research (IGEN / IGAENR) and other national authorities. The Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research may also request reports from the IGAENR bearing on implementation of this or that reform of the education system – one example being the IGEN- IGAENR joint report of November 2013 on handling of major problems arising during compulsory schooling, which may be consulted online at:

http://cache.media.education.gouv.fr/file/2013/27/1/2013-095_grande_difficulte_293271.pdf

The DEPP has participated in evaluation of educational experiments. The interactive “D’COL” support scheme developed by the National Centre for Distance Education (CNED – Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance) for pupils in their first year of lower secondary priority education was set up by the Directorate in October 2013. It provides individual personalised support in three subjects (French, mathematics and English).

In order to demonstrate the real benefits that digital support can provide to pupils, teachers and families, another scheme entitled “Collèges 'Connectés” (COCON) was tried out in 23 collèges in 2013-2014. In May 2014, the schools concerned were asked to gather information focusing on uses of digital technology and possible changes that might result from the scheme (in terms of school organisation, teaching practices and pupils’ learning strategies).

At the start of the school year 2013/2014, the possibility of leaving it up to parents to choose their children’s educational path upon completion of lower secondary schooling was tried out in 117 collèges under the aegis of 12 regional education authorities. Quantitative follow-up of the experiment is based on indicators of pupils’ schooling following their final year of lower and first year of upper secondary education, and consists of analysing such indicators’ evolution.

Another national authority, the FEJ, finances innovative action by associating bodies carrying out the experiments concerned with external evaluators, in order to be sure of their quality before universalising them. They include experiments designed to provide better support to ensure the success of young people who have chosen to complete their education in internship programmes, and others aiming to increase young people’s international mobility. Such projects seek to facilitate and lend support to mobility on the part of young people with few or no qualifications, and make the best possible use of their stays abroad as structuring stages on their path to social and professional integration.

Teaching practices 

Evaluation of teaching practices consists of studying various aspects of the teaching profession in a variety of contexts, with a view to gathering the information required to characterise professional practices.

The Department’s strategy on the use of digital technology in schools, which made it one of 2014’s major priorities, has led to closer attention being paid to the ways in which teachers make use of such technology in the classroom. The strategy also seeks to define the way in such uses are developing. In 2014, in view of this, the DEPP undertook a study of teachers, which, rather than being a simple description, aims to define how far digital technology has become incorporated into their practices. 

Another innovative practice, the setup of relay modules, highlights the teaching practices appropriate to the scheme. According to the report in the Dossiers de la DEPP, April 2013, teaching practices in such schemes are more “active” overall than in ordinary classes. Among the more “active” modes of teaching, individualised teaching is widely practised, while organisation into groups of levels is less usual. Almost all teachers involved in such schemes hold dialogued classes and keep their pupils active during class time.   

In the context of studying teaching practices at primary level, the DEPP also lends support to multidisciplinary research bearing on development of teaching practices for primary-school teachers, carried out by a dozen or so researchers in the field. Their work includes monitoring beginner teachers over two or three years and carrying out in-depth studies at a selection of primary schools.  

Evaluation of the education system

Before the setup of CNESCO on 28 January 2014, the DEPP was already taking part in quality assurance of the education system by supplying statistical data on various of the system’s aspects. It continues to publish its findings on a regular basis, and they may be consulted online – examples include the “Notes d’Information” providing summarised information on this or that aspect of the education system, or implementation of a policy or scheme. The “Statistical Benchmarks and References” (RARS – Repères et Références Statistiques) compendium contains all available statistical information on Frances education and research system, organised into over 180 themes. To view all DEPP consultations, log on to http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid57102/l-etat-de-l-ecole-30-indicateurs-sur-le-systeme-educatif-francais.html

In less regular fashion, the Court of Auditors also participates in evaluating the education system by drafting public reports that help in assuring its quality. In its report of 12 May 2010 entitled “National Education faced with the goal of success for all pupils” (L’éducation nationale face à l’objectif de la réussite de tous les élèves), the Court suggested that allocation of resources is not sufficiently discriminating to ensure equality of opportunities among pupils.  

Since enactment of the 1989 guidance law on education (no.89-486), the Inspectorates General (IGEN and IGAENR) have had the explicit responsibility of evaluating the education system. Article 25 of the law stipulates that the two Inspectorates carry out “national evaluations” to be sent to the presidents and rapporteurs of Parliamentary committees responsible for cultural affairs. It also stipulates that the Inspectorates draw up annual reports, which are made public.

Now that CNESCO is up and running, major changes are to be expected in future evaluation of the education system. Henceforth, a single body is responsible for casting an objective eye on the evaluation methodologies employed by the various actors involved.