Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Addressing inequities in the Slovak Republic through evaluation and assessment

by Claire Shewbridge
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

It is taken for granted in OECD countries nowadays that the vast majority of children and young people have access to education, regardless of their wealth or background. However, despite this great achievement, in many countries, the socio-economic background of children will still have a large impact on how well they succeed at school.

In the Slovak Republic, there are considerable equity challenges, and a very clear link between students’ socio-economic background and their educational achievement. The educational differences between rural areas and cities are significant, regional disparities are more pronounced than in other OECD countries, and the educational outcomes of the Roma minority are particularly poor. This has a lasting impact on a child’s life, as the reduced risk of unemployment for Slovak men and women with upper secondary education is particularly strong when compared internationally. These regional challenges and the important role that education plays in promoting a more inclusive growth are also underlined in the OECD Economic Survey launched today by OECD's Secretary-General in Bratislava.

An essential tool to help the Slovak Republic address this inequity is an effective evaluation and assessment system that will help them to monitor teaching and learning, set educational goals, and improve practice and outcomes. This has been the focus of the OECD’s Review of Evaluation and Assessment in Education, of which the Slovak Republic Review is the final publication.

To improve the evaluation and assessment system in the Slovak Republic, a strategic approach is needed, with the clarification of long-term goals for schooling, and capacity building at the national level so that results from evaluation and assessment feed into policies for school system improvement.

The Slovak Republic has made a positive move by strengthening the objectivity of examinations at the end of upper secondary schooling (Maturita) and developing national assessments in Year 9 that help embed the competency-based national curriculum. Next week, also, children in selected primary schools will sit a new assessment in Year 5.

To keep moving forward, the entire school community needs to be empowered to get involved, from parents associations, to students associations, to teachers associations. An important part of this is ensuring that teachers and school leaders have access to adequate professional development. With strategic national leadership, and meaningful community feedback, positive changes can be driven forward so that all students, regardless of their background, will have the opportunity to succeed.

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