Strengthen evaluation to improve student learning, says OECD


11/04/2013 - Education systems around the world are increasingly focussing on the evaluation of students, teachers and schools as part of their drive to help students do better and improve results. Rising demand for quality school education and a trend towards greater school autonomy in some countries are among the factors behind this new focus, according to a new OECD report.

Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment reveals striking differences across OECD countries in both whether and how the performance of students, teachers, school leaders, schools and the education system is assessed, and offers advice on how to use evaluation and feedback to help students, teachers and school leaders.

In primary education, for example, students are not awarded marks in Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden whereas Hungary, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland and the Slovak Republic rely primarily on numerical marks for formal reporting.

In Australia, Chile, Korea, Portugal and the United Kingdom, teachers undergo formal appraisal processes as part of their performance management while in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, feedback on teacher performance is provided more informally in schools.

Launching the report in Oslo, Norway, Andreas Schleicher, Advisor to the Secretary-General of the OECD on Education Policy and Deputy Director for Education and Skills, said: “At a time when schools need to assume more responsibility for managing their affairs and embrace more diverse student populations, building effective systems for evaluation and assessment has become absolutely critical for helping students to learn better, teachers to teach better, and schools to work more effectively.

Key recommendations of the report, one of the largest international studies of educational evaluation ever conducted, include:


  • Take a comprehensive approach: All the components of assessment and evaluation – student assessment, teacher appraisal, school evaluation, school leader appraisal and education system evaluation - should form a coherent whole. This will generate synergies, avoid duplication and prevent inconsistency of objectives.


  • Align evaluation and assessment with educational goals: Evaluation and assessment should align with the principles embedded in educational goals.


  • Focus on improving classroom practices: To optimise the potential of evaluation and assessment to improve what is at the heart of education – student learning – policy makers should promote the regular use of evaluation and assessment results for improvements in the classroom.


  • Carefully conceive the high-stakes uses of evaluation and assessment results. The use of evaluation and assessment results should avoid distortions in the education process such as teaching-to-the-test and narrowing of the curriculum.


  • Build consensus: Ensure that all the stakeholders are involved early and understand the benefits.


  • Place students at the centre: Students should be fully engaged with their learning and empowered to assess their own progress. The development of critical thinking and social competencies should also be monitored.


 Read the Summary of Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment.

For comment or further information, journalists should contact Paulo Santiago of the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills.

A companion series – OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education – offers an in-depth analysis of evaluation and assessment policies in each of the 14 countries which opted for an in-depth review by an OECD team: Australia, Belgium (Flemish Community), Chile (to be published), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands (to be published), New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic (to be published), Sweden and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) (to be published).These are available at



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