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Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

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Overview Spain

Contents

Spain:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Spain:Historical Development

Spain:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Spain:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Spain:Political and Economic Situation

Spain:Organisation and Governance

Spain:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Spain:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Spain:Organisation of Private Education

Spain:National Qualifications Framework

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

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

Spain:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Spain:Funding in Education

Spain:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Spain:Higher Education Funding

Spain:Adult Education and Training Funding

Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

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

Spain:Primary Education

Spain:Organisation of Primary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Spain:Assessment in Primary Education

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

Spain:Main Types of Provision

Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

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

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

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

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

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

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

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

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

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

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

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

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

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

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

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

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

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

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

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

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

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

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

The aim of the 2006 Education Act and the 2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying it, is to improve the quality and effectiveness of the education and training systems. To this end, the education system has two differentiated pathways: educational inspection and evaluation.

Educational inspection ensures compliance with the law, the guarantee of rights and duties of those participating in the teaching and learning processes, the improvement of the education system, and the quality and equity of education.

The purpose of the evaluation of the education system is to:

  • contribute to the improvement of the quality and equity of education
  • direct educational policies
  • increase the transparency and effectiveness of the education system
  • offer information on the degree of compliance with the improvement objectives established by the education authorities
  • provide information on the degree of achievement of the Spanish and European educational objectives, as well as on compliance with the educational commitments made concerning the demand of the Spanish society and the goals set in the context of the European Union.

The individualised evaluation in the 3rd year of primary education (2014/15 academic year) and the external evaluation at the end of the 6th year of primary education (2015/16 academic year) were conducted for the first time. For more information, see Personalised attention to students and individualised evaluation in primary education and Design of external evaluations at the end of the stage, implemented from the 2015/16 academic year.

The external evaluations corresponding to the 4rd year of compulsory secondary education and the 2nd year of Bachillerato will be conducted at the end of the 2016/17 academic year. For more information, see Design of external evaluations at the end of compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is responsible for the design of the basic curriculum with regard to the objectives, skills, contents, evaluation criteria and assessable learning standards and outcomes, in order to ensure common training and guarantee that certificates are official and valid throughout the country:

  • evaluation criteria should serve as a reference to assess what students know and  know how to do in each subject. These evaluation criteria are in turn broken down into assessable learning standards
  • assessable learning standards are the most specific observable and measurable elements when assessing students’ skills development, since, as they are linked to key skills, they allow to assess student performance in each one of them.

Assuming that all areas and subjects must contribute to the development of skills, the set of assessable learning standards of a specific subject will result in the subject profile, which will allow to identify the skills that are developed through that specific subject, in such a way that the drawing up of this profile facilitates the evaluation of students’ skills.

Responsible bodies

The bodies responsible for the external evaluation of the quality of the education system in pre-primary, primary and secondary education are the following:

  • State Educational Inspectorate
  • educational inspection bodies of the Autonomous Communities
  • National Institute for Educational Evaluation, reporting to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
  • bodies for the evaluation of the education system in the Autonomous Communities.

State Educational Inspectorate

Its activity is subordinated to the central administration, but requires the cooperation of the Autonomous Communities. For this reason, it is organised into 17 Inspectorate Services, one for each Autonomous Community.

Its services are in charge of ensuring compliance with the powers conferred on the State as well as observance of the constitutional principles and regulations and the different acts on education throughout the national territory.

Its functions are the following:

  • check compliance with the requirements established by the State in the general organisation of the education system regarding branches, stages, cycles and specialities and the corresponding number of years in each case
  • check that the basic aspects of the curriculum have been included in the curricula established by the education authorities and that they comply with the relevant national organisation
  • check compliance with the conditions for the awarding, issuing and recognition of certificates, as well as their academic and professional validity
  • ensure compliance with basic conditions guaranteeing the equality of all Spaniards in the exercise of their rights and duties in education, as well as with their linguistic rights
  • verify that subsidies and grants are awarded in accordance with the general criteria established by national regulations.

State officials are to be considered a public authority for all intents and purposes, and may require the support of the authorities of the State and the Autonomous Communities.

Educational inspection of the Autonomous Communities

It is performed on all elements and aspects of the education system.

Its main functions are the following:

  • supervise and monitor, from an educational and organisational point of view, the running of educational institutions, as well as their programmes
  • supervise the teaching practice and the managerial function, and cooperate in their constant improvement
  • participate in the evaluation of the education system and all its elements
  • Monitor compliance with the acts, regulations and other provisions on the education system that are in force in educational institutions
  • ensure compliance and implementation of the principles and values of the Education Act, including those aimed at promoting real equality between men and women
  • provide counselling, guidance and information to the various sectors of the educational community in exercising their rights fulfilling their obligations
  • submit the reports required by the relevant education authorities.

Educational inspection is the link between the administration and educational institutions and plays a key role in external school evaluation processes.

It is carried out by the Inspectorate civil servants. In undertaking their tasks, theyare to be considered a public authority and their activities include:

  • be directly informed of all the activities carried out in educational institutions, to which they have freedom of access
  • examine and check any academic, pedagogical and administrative documentation of schools they may deem necessary
  • have the collaboration of other civil servants and those responsible for public and private educational institutions and services in order to carry out their tasks.

For more information, see Staff involved in monitoring educational quality for early childhood and school education.

The Autonomous Communities have regulated and passed regulations on the organisation and functioning of their educational inspection services on the basis of the guidelines established by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

In the case of the Autonomous Communities which have defined and approved their own School Evaluation Plan, the Inspectorate carries out the external evaluation in accordance with the Plan, which occasionally implies collaborating with other regional evaluation institutions.

National Institute for Educational Evaluation of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport

The National Institute for Educational Evaluation is in charge of drawing up, with the collaboration of the education authorities, multiannual plans for the general evaluation of the education system at non-university level, coordinating the participation of the State in international evaluations and developing the National System of Education Indicators.

The Institute, also in collaboration with the education authorities, establishes methodological and scientific standards with the aim of guaranteeing the quality, validity and reliability of educational evaluations.

The functions of the Institute, which are carried out in coordination with the education authorities, are the following:

  • coordination of policies for the general evaluation of the education system and the conduct, in collaboration with the relevant bodies of the education authorities, of general diagnostic evaluations
  • coordination of the participation of Spain in international evaluations, participation in the development of international education indicators, as well as the monitoring of the European Union’s actions in this field, without prejudice to the competences of the Under-Secretariat in statistical matters
  • development of the National System of Education Indicators and the conduct of research and studies for the evaluation of the education system, as well as the dissemination of information on both actions.

Bodies for the evaluation of the education system in the Autonomous Communities

Some Autonomous Communities have set up specific institutions for the evaluation of the education system. In some others, this type of evaluation is carried out by units of the education administration which are not exclusively devoted to this activity.

Due to this disparity, both the characteristics and the functions of these bodies are different in each Autonomous Community. In any case, those responsible for evaluation have to perform the following tasks:

  • collaborate with the National Institute for Educational Evaluation in the different activities for the evaluation of the Spanish education system
  • evaluate the education system within their territory
  • draw up and carry out school evaluation plans, considering the socio-economic and cultural situations of families and pupils, the environment of the school and its resources
  • support self-evaluation processes in educational institutions
  • draw up plans for the assessment of the managerial function
  • draw up plans for the evaluation of the teaching staff in the civil service in order to improve the quality of education and the work of teachers. These plans, which must be public, include the aims and assessment criteria, as well as the way in which teachers, the educational community and the administration participate in the evaluation process
  • encourage voluntary teacher evaluation
  • establish education indicators systems.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

At State level, the education system is evaluated through the National System of Education Indicators and external evaluations at the end of the stage, which are sample-based. In addition, Spain participates in international student assessment and education indicators projects led by different supranational bodies.

At regional level, each education authority may conduct external evaluations within the limits of its remit. In addition, in order to learn about the situation of educational institutions and pupils in its region and propose improvement plans, they also draw up and carry out plans for the evaluation of their educational institutions, as well as conduct assessments of the managerial function and teachers.

Finally, educational institutions may design and carry out their own internal evaluations.

Evaluation of the education system

At State level, the evaluation of the education system is the responsibility of the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, in collaboration with the education authorities. This evaluation is conducted through different mechanisms:

National System of Education Indicators

With the aim of providing an overview of education in Spain, the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, together with the Subdirectorate General for Statistics and Studies, draws up the National System of Education Indicators.

This publication presents the results of the main educational statistics, both at national level and broken down into Autonomous Communities.

It also provides international data placing the country in the framework of the OECD and the European Union, especially the indicators related to the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Its first version was published in 2000 and, since then, twelve editions have been released, the latest in 2016.

At present, the National System of Education Indicators comprises 20 indicators, which are in turn divided into sub-indicators. Their update is variable and depends on the availability of new data.

National System of Education Indicators

Dimensions
Indicators
Schooling and educational environment


Schooling and population
Schooling rates (reference ages) in non-compulsory levels (ISCED levels 0, 3, 4 and 5)
Foreign students
Students per group and teacher
Vocational training
Participation in lifelong learning
Educational funding
Total expenditure on education
Expenditure on education per student
Educational outcomes
Basic kills in the 4th year of primary education
Basic skills in the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education
Key skills at the age of 15
Students' age suitability
Early drop-out in education and training
Graduation rates (ISCED levels 2, 3, 5 and 6)
Level of training of adult population
Activity and unemployment rates according to level of training
Differences in income according to level of training
Linguistic skill in foreign languages
Teacher training of teachers of Mathematics
Skills level of adult population

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the National System of Education Indicators of the National Institute for Educational Evaluation.

External evaluations at the end of the stage in primary education, compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato

The aim of external evaluations at the end of the stage is to offer:

  • teachers, students and families the definition of the common goals and objectives to be achieved at the end of each stage
  • families information about their children’s progress in the education system. Transparency
  • schools and teachers the early detection of learning deficiencies and information on the result of the teaching and learning process, as well as on the need of individualised attention to students. Objective and comparable assessments. They emphasise their teaching method and the school development plan, since no student can be left behind
  • schools, teachers and education authorities an additional tool to bring about a change in the teaching methodology, which moves beyond a model that is almost exclusively based on memorising and evolves into a model integrating skills
  • education authorities information in order to use resources and establish improvement plans, as well as to disseminate schools’ actions regarding good practices. They help establish more efficient educational policies
  • students motivation in order to remain in the education system and continue their studies beyond the compulsory stages, and recognition of good results, excellence, effort and responsibility
  • society the existence of a minimum set of requirements common to all territories, guaranteeing the official nature of certificates as well as their validity, which are comparable to those established at international level.

The expected consequences in the development of external evaluations at the end of the stage are the following:

  • equity when indicating the learning corresponding to the basic curricula established by Royal Decrees
  • responsibility in the decisions made by schools in the exercise of their autonomy: training provision, teaching methods, curricular proposals, evaluation procedures
  • accountability, since the focus of the reform is the improvement of student performance
  • estimation and assessment of students’ achievement levels, regardless of the scale used. Traditional names to express grades are used, considering that they are more understandable to the educational community
  • provides information on the degree of development of the cognitive skills, in order to guarantee transition between different types of provision.

These tests cannot constitute an insurmountable barrier to students: each evaluation must offer different options and paths so that, under no circumstances, nobody who wants to continue learning is left outside the education system.

The processing of the data collected must be transparent in order to be able to inform about the added value of schools in relation to the socioeconomic circumstances of their environment and, in particular, about their evolution.

The results must be brought to the attention of the educational community by means of indicators which are common to all Spanish schools, without identifying any personal data and after taking account of the socioeconomic and sociocultural factors of the context.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport:

  • is responsible for the establishment of the foundations for the use and public access to the results of the evaluations, after consultation with the Autonomous Communities
  • has to periodically publish the conclusions of general interest of the evaluations carried out by the National Institute for Educational Evaluation in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities, and share information on a regular basis through the National System of Education Indicators.

In accordance with the implementation calendar of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, the evaluation at the end of primary education was implemented the academic year 2015/16 and those conducted at the end of compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato will be implemented in 2016/17.

For more information, see Design of external evaluations at the end of the stage, implemented from the 2015/16 academic year and Design of external evaluations at the end of compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato.

Participation in international evaluation studies (and according to Autonomous Community)

Spain participates in several international evaluation projects, which include: 

  • International Indicators of Education Systems (INES), of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in which Spain participates since it was established in 1992
  • Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), of the OECD. Spain has participated in all the cycles of the PISA Project and has drawn up national reports based on Spanish results in this Programme. Its latest edition was conducted in 2015
  • Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Under a common theoretical framework, progress in Mathematics and Science in the 4th year of primary education and in the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education is evaluated. In 2011 and 2015, Spain participated in the assessment of primary education
  • PISA for Schools, of the OECD. Spain took part in the pilot test in 2013
  • Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), of the IEA. Spain has participated in the 2006 and 2011 assessments conducted in the 4th year of primary education
  • Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), of the OECD. It analyses the learning environment and working conditions of compulsory secondary education teachers. Its last edition took place in 2013
  • International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009 of the IEA, on students’ knowledge and understanding, as well as attitudes, values, perceptions and actions relating to civics and citizenship
  • European Survey on Language Competences (SurveyLang), of the European Union, 2011. The international as well as the Spanish report on this Survey, which provides comparable data on the foreign language competence of European pupils in their final year of compulsory secondary education, have been published
  • Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), of the OECD. The first edition of this study, with the participation of 26 countries, took place in 2013 and its results have already been published
  • Teacher Education Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M), of the IEA, carried out between 2007 and 2009.

For more information, see National Institute for Educational Evaluation.

Other evaluation methods

Several Autonomous Communities produce reports where they analyse and describe the National System of Education Indicators in detail in their context.

Some have also developed their own indicators on the context, resources, processes and outcomes of the education system. For that purpose, they use statistics and other information from a number of sources, such as the education administration, the National Statistics Institute, regional statistics institutes, Eurostat, international studies or diagnostic evaluations.

Regarding international studies, most Autonomous Communities have expanded the PISA sample in order to obtain representative data for their region. In addition, they participate in other international evaluation studies.

Evaluation of educational institutions

The education authorities of the Autonomous Communities:

  • may draw up and carry out plans for the evaluation of educational institutions, which take into account the socio-economic and cultural situations of families and pupils, the environment of the school and its resources
  • must support and facilitate school self-evaluation.

Each Autonomous Community is responsible for the design and implementation of the mechanisms for the external evaluation of the schools within its territory and, in addition, can establish its own self-evaluation or internal evaluation model. Because of their complementarity, they are jointly regulated in several regions.

Evaluations at the end of the stage are also mechanisms for the external evaluation of schools that are common to all Autonomous Communities.

In addition, some of them draw up external evaluation plans including other mechanisms. Although they differ between the education authorities, their most characteristic features are the following:

  • their frequency varies, but often coincides with the period covered by the school management
  • the responsible body, which is normally the Inspectorate, in some cases in collaboration with the bodies for evaluation and educational quality of the Autonomous Communities, defines the areas to be evaluated and normally establishes indicators
  • contextual aspects, resources, processes and educational outcomes are evaluated. In some cases, other aspects, such as equity conditions, are assessed
  • the procedures used normally include the analysis of school documents, interviews and questionnaires from different sectors of the educational community, as well as the direct observation of teaching and learning situations
  • the results of the evaluation are included in a report which is made available to the education administration and the school for them to introduce improvement measures.

Several Autonomous Communities, normally through their bodies for evaluation and educational quality, have developed guidelines and orientations to support self-evaluation or internal school evaluation. They address different aspects such as evaluation areas, indicators, procedures, instruments or advice for the drawing up of an improvement plan.

This type of evaluation is normally annual although, in some cases, it is specified that it is continuous and its results are included in external assessments, depending on the stipulated time frame for the latter. In general, the school management is responsible for the coordination of the internal evaluation process and the Inspectorate undertakes advisory or supervisory tasks.

In addition, some Autonomous Communities have established quality programmes or procedures for the implementation of quality management systems, which are voluntary for schools.

Finally, the recent participation of Spain in PISA for Schools constitutes an additional method for the evaluation of schools, since it provides data at school level and information about their performance in relation to other factors.

Evaluation of the teaching and managerial functions

The education authorities of the Autonomous Communities:

  • must draw up plans for the evaluation of the teaching staff in the civil service in order to improve the quality of education and the work of teachers
  • may draw up plans for the assessment of the managerial function.

Plans for the evaluation of the teaching staff in the civil service must be drawn up with the participation of teachers and public. They must include the aims and assessment criteria, as well as the way in which teachers, the educational community and the administration participate in the evaluation process.

The education authorities have to encourage voluntary teacher evaluation and establish the necessary procedures so that the results of these assessments, together with in-service training, research and innovation activities, are taken into account in competitions for transfers and career advancement.

The participation in international evaluation programmes such as TALIS and TEDS-M helps to obtain information on teachers and compare it with other countries.