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OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Luxembourg
A central drive of recent educational policy making in Luxembourg has been to develop evaluation instruments to strengthen the focus on student performance and progress in classrooms, schools and at the policy-making level within the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP). This has come alongside an increased degree of autonomy for schools, although the school system remains highly centralised with the MENFP responsible for the planning and administration of all teaching in public schools. The MENFP directly appoints a school leader (directeur) in public secondary schools, but each fundamental school is under the authority of a local education authority inspecteur, who in the absence of a permanent school leader, monitors fundamental school compliance to laws and regulations and reports back to the MENFP. Typically at age 11, children are assessed primarily on their ability in German, French and mathematics and selected to attend either general secondary education (ES) or technical education (EST). Both national and international evidence point to some worrying inequities within the Luxembourg school system: grade repetition is a common practice that contributes to a high age-grade discrepancy; and international comparisons of student performance at age 15 reveal a larger than average group of low performing students and a major performance disadvantage for students with an immigrant background. In response, 2009/10 saw the reorganisation of the first nine years of schooling into four pedagogical cycles, each with a defined set of competency-based learning objectives (socles de compétences) that students must master by the end of the cycle in order to progress to the next pedagogical cycle. Students who have not achieved all learning objectives by the end of the cycle, can follow a special third year programme. Competency-based learning objectives have been introduced in French, German and mathematics in lower secondary education, but there is an ongoing discussion with key stakeholders to extend this throughout secondary education. Further, new student assessment initiatives have been introduced, including: requirements for teachers in fundamental schools to document student learning progress; new standardised national assessments to monitor student outcomes against the learning objectives in French, German and mathematics in fundamental school (start of Cycle 3) and in lower secondary education (Grade 5ES and 9EST); and a national test with uniform content at the end of Cycle 4 of fundamental school (épreuves standardisées). There has also been a drive to strengthen school self-evaluation, with requirements for schools to produce development plans and national support offered to schools by the Agency for the Development of Quality in Schools (ADQS). At the same time, the MENFP has commissioned and evaluates several pilot studies in different schools to encourage innovative approaches to teaching and learning. In this dynamic and fast-evolving context, the OECD review identifies some priorities for the further development of evaluation and assessment policies in Luxembourg.
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