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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in early childhood and school education


11.Quality assurance

11.1Quality assurance in early childhood and school education

Last update: 22 March 2024

The national quality assurance system of kindergartens and schools relies on both the internal evaluation (self-evaluation) of institutions, and the external pedagogical-professional evaluation (inspection) as well as the students' standardized output measurement results.

Responsible bodies

The Minister responsible for education has the following roles in relation to evaluation and quality assurance:

  • operating the national evaluation system: maintaining the Educational Authority, which undertakes national and regional inspection, measurements and evaluation,
  • regulatory tasks: regulating the activities of evaluation such as procedures for national student assessment, secondary school leaving and admission examinations and the national registry of educational experts,
  • information supporting evaluation: operating the (statistical) Public Education Information System,
  • ordering assessments and professional evaluations annually, based on the ministerial decree on the school year,
  • ordering ad-hoc thematic evaluations (assessment, research or checking supporting evaluation),

The Minister fulfils the above responsibilities by maintaining and operating the Educational Authority.

Educational Authority

The Educational Authority manages national and international student assessments, official and educational inspections and organises the upper secondary school leaving exams. Additionally, as a public administrative authority, it also participates in accrediting in-service teacher training programmes and examination centres as well as maintaining the registry of exam chairs and education experts. The Registry of education experts holds the names and fields of experts who participate in teacher or school evaluation (inspection).

The Educational Authority organizes pedagogical-professional audits and supervises the operation of the controlling system.

It also carries out the operation of the teacher qualification system and the legal inspection of the maintainer activities of foreign educational institutions and participates in the official control of public education institutions.

Each year, the Educational Authority conducts thematic professional inspections at the request of the Minister responsible for education. National thematic professional inspection is prescribed by the Minister responsible for education in the decree on the school year. In the 2017/2018 school year, the Authority examined the compliance of the statistical data provided by public education institutions, as well as the legal requirements of the data provided through the early warning and pedagogical support system of students at risk of dropping out. In the 2018/2019 school year, the Educational Authority investigated the obligation and fulfilment of kindergarten attendance and relevant documentation. In the 2019/2020 school year, the Authority examined the measures and the implementations taken by institutions and maintainers to prevent dropping out and improve performance, as well as desegregation in public education institutions with a high proportion of pupils at risk of dropping out, with low performance in the last three years based on the results of the National Assessment of Basic Competences, and with a high segregation index. In the 2020/2021 school year, the Authority inspected the fulfilment and obligation of in-service teacher training in educational institutions within the framework of professional inspection. In the 2021/2022 school year, the fulfilment and documentation of the pupils’ with an individual work schedule obligation to take grading examination was investigated. In the 2022/2023school year, as part of the professional inspection, the Authority will examine the organization of everyday physical education (at least one physical education class per day) and the ways and documentation of replacing it with a maximum of two hours per week.

The Educational Authority regularly inspects the activities of education experts, state accredited language exam centres and in-service teacher training providers. It analyses and keeps records of the results of the inspections and evaluations, and reports them to the Minister. Regarding quality assurance, it also operates the Public Education Information System (known as KIR).

The maintainer

As part of the managerial activities, the maintainer inspects pedagogical-professional activities of the public education institution. It is the legal obligation of the maintainer to evaluate the implementation of the tasks specified in the pedagogical programme and, through this, the effectiveness of the pedagogical-professional activity of the educational institution.

The Minister responsible for education may ask the maintainer to carry out legal, professional, pedagogical and professional assessment of the institution and report the result of the analysis. If the maintainer does not comply with the request, the Educational Authority will take action at the request of the Minister.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

Pedagogical programme

Education and teaching in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and dormitories are carried out according to the pedagogical programme. The pedagogical programme is an institutional document that defines the educational, pedagogical principles, objectives, tasks, tools, procedures, the school’s local curriculum, pedagogical work activities, and the full range of services provided by the institution. The pedagogical program is accepted by the board of teachers and approved by the head of school. This document is the base of operation, control and evaluation. The publicity of the approved program must be ensured. The pedagogical program is a mandatory document for the operation of each public education institution. Parents have direct access to the document; this allows them to monitor the included tasks and if needed, ask for the implementation of its content.

Internal evaluation by the school head

The head of the public education institution is responsible for the professional functioning of the institution, including pedagogical-professional activities.

The key part of the national pedagogical and professional evaluation is the below discussed institutional self-evaluation system. This can in itself be an appropriate tool for internal quality assessment and improvement. Within this system, teachers perform self-assessment every five years, while the head of institution performs self-evaluation in the second and fourth year of his or her mandate. The whole institution is performing a self-evaluation every five years. This examines how the institution was able to meet its own goals and which state of implementation are they in currently. Based on their self-evaluation, the teachers and the heads of institutions prepare a five-year self-development plan and an action plan for the whole institution.

For each type of institution, self-assessment is supported by the self-evaluation handbook and methodological guide – revised in 2021 – issued by the Educational Authority and approved by the Minister responsible for education.

The self-evaluation system also includes the evaluation of the work of the teachers and the head, as well as the evaluation of the work of the whole institution. During the self-evaluation of the teachers and the management, parents and students of secondary institutions can evaluate the work of teachers in the form of interviews and questionnaire surveys. During the self-assessment of the institution, at least two parents per class/group should be interviewed. The self-evaluation handbook contains the suggested questions for the interviews and questionnaires. The results of the self-assessment are used in the national pedagogical-professional evaluation process.

In addition, the head of the institution can initiate a pedagogical-professional evaluation in his/her own sphere of competence, which can be aimed at evaluating the institution's pedagogical-professional work. The pedagogical-professional evaluation initiated by the head of the institution is carried out by an external expert. 

National pedagogical-professional evaluation (inspection)

The aim of the national inspection is to evaluate teaching and education at educational institutions by evaluating teachers, school heads and the fulfilment of the goals set by the institution itself, and in this way to support the development of the institution. The inspection is carried out by the Educational Authority under the responsibility of the Minister responsible for education.

The inspection is carried out on a five-year cycle in educational institutions and the it closes with an evaluation. The inspection covers all public education institutions and their employees engaged in pedagogical activities, regardless of the type of the maintainerErrors detected during pedagogical and professional evaluations do not result in retaliation. Audits’ purpose is to develop pedagogical and professional work in the institutions by naming outstanding areas and areas to develop - the auditing experts do not have any scope for action.

The school supervision inspections are carried out on the basis of an annual national pedagogical-professional inspection plan, which must be prepared by the Educational Authority by the 20th of July each year for the following calendar year.

The experts involved in the inspection have significant professional experience in the sector to which they are assigned. The precondition of their operation as a specialist is a registration on the National Register of Experts.

Types of inspection:

Inspection of teachers

Teachers are evaluated according to general pedagogical criteria, aiming to improve their pedagogical skills. The supervision of teachers aims to get to know their work but it also provides important experience for the management of the institution and education. The concept and professional expectations of the audit emphasize demanding, quality professional work. In addition to gathering experiences, it also assigns further development directions and provides an example for teachers.

The evaluation covers the following nine areas:

  • Pedagogical methods,

  • Pedagogical processes, activity-planning and self-reflections related to their implementation,

  • Learning support,

  • Development of students’ personality, ensuring individual treatment, required educational methods used for the inclusive teaching of disadvantaged or SEN children/pupils and those with behavioural, learning difficulties,

  • Support of community development of classes/groups, motivating students to be open towards cultural and social diversity, integrational activities, form teacher activities,

  • Continuous evaluation of teaching processes and the personality development of pupils/students,

  • Problem-solving, communication and professional cooperation,

  • Commitment to professional responsibilities and development,

  • Proficiency in environmental education, a true representation of the values of sustainability and a way of shaping attitudes towards environmental awareness.

The areas of inspection - except for the first point - are the same as the teacher qualification areas used by the teacher's career system so the result of the audit and rating reflects on the same areas.

Methods of the inspection:

  • Document examination:

    • self-development and development plans of the previous sampling;

    • cumulated results from the anonym questionnaire made for self-evaluation;

    • local curriculum and other documents of the annual planning;

    • lesson plans and plans of other activities;

    • class register;

    • student exercise books

  • observation of lessons and teaching activities: observing goals, content, structure, effectiveness and teaching methods;

  • interviews with the teacher and the school head: discussing the classes/activities observed, providing additional information. The school head’s interview about the teacher’s work takes place after the teacher’s hearing, without the presence of the educator.

After the discussions, a finalized assessment is made, which identifies strengths and areas to develop for the teacher in the nine examined areas, on the basis of which the teacher prepares a five-year development plan in consultation with the head of the institution.

Inspection of school heads

School heads are evaluated based on pedagogical and leadership criteria, taking into account achievements made regarding his/her goals. The purpose is to develop the pedagogical and management skills of institution heads.

The evaluation concerns the following five areas:

  • Strategic management of the pedagogical (educational, learning, teaching, development, diagnostic) processes of the institution;

  • Strategic and operational management of the organisation and operation of the institution;

  • Strategic and operational management of the institutional changes;

  • Strategic and operational management of the institution’s staff;

  • Development of leadership competences.

Besides the head and the maintainer, the teaching staff and parental community is also questioned during the audit. The expert conducting the inspection participate in a preparatory training by the Educational Authority. At least one of the two experts appointed to a head’s examination must have significant professional experience of leadership in the same type of institution as the evaluated head’s. The expert must have an institutional management qualification obtained in the teacher’s post-graduate specialist examination

Methods of the inspection:

  • The analysis of the questionnaire survey addressed to the teaching staff and parents;

  • Examination of documents, e.g. the management programme, the pedagogical programme of the school, rules of organisation and operation, 2 annual work plans and annual reports, documents of self-evaluation of the school, self-evaluation of the school head;

  • Interviews with the employer, the school head and other management staff to collect additional information.

After the interviews, an evaluation is prepared which identifies strengths and areas for development in the five areas above.

Inspection of institutions

The educational body prepares its pedagogical program with the guidance of the head, setting up the pedagogical view of the school, the pedagogical principles, the values ​​and the goals of pedagogical work. It also defines its related tasks and tools. Institutions regularly review the pedagogical program striving to keep up with the professional and social expectations of education and, at the same time, respond to everyday work experience. The purpose of institution inspection within the scope of the pedagogical-professional evaluation is to guide the development of the pedagogical and professional work of the institution, primarily by examining how the educational institution has implemented its own pedagogical program.

When evaluating the institution, experts collect data and identify outstanding areas and areas to develop for the following areas:

  • Pedagogical processes;

  • Personality and school community development;

  • Results;

  • Internal relations and cooperation;

  • External relations;

  • Conditions of teaching;

  • Meeting the requirements and expectations set out in the curriculum regulatory document issued by the Government and the Minister responsible for education, and the institutional goals set out in the pedagogical programme.

Institution inspection is carried out once in five-year cycles. It is necessary for the head of the institution to be audited beforehand or to be held under inspection simultaneously.

Methods of the inspection:

  • Examination of documents, e.g. pedagogical programme, Rules of Organisation and Operation, annual work plan and annual report, plan for in-service and further training of staff,

  • Reviewing the self-evaluation of the institution made by the head of school,

  • Analysis of the results of pupils at standardised tests (National Assessment of Basic Competences) in the last five years,

  • Reviewing the results of inspections from the last five years as well as the action plans designed on their basis,

  • Reviewing the results of inspections of teachers,

  • Questionnaire surveys conducted with teachers, other staff, parents and other partners (satisfaction surveys),

  • Interviews with school heads, the management staff, teachers, parents and the maintaining body,

  • Observation: on-site inspection aiming at clarifying and verifying information obtained during the pre-preparation process based on the analysis of the document and collecting additional information.

After the on-site inspection, the expert team creates a professional summary evaluation report and uploads it to the IT support system operated by the Educational Authority within fifteen days. Thus, the evaluation report becomes available for the school head. The summary evaluation report defines the strengths and areas for further improvement in the seven examined areas. The results of the audit are published by the institution on its website.

On the basis of the expert findings, the head of the institution prepares a five-year action plan (development plan) that sets out the development tasks of the institution's pedagogical-professional work. The action plan is approved by the teaching body within 60 days of the completion of the inspection and the head of the institution sends it to the maintainer of the institution. The criteria and methods applied during inspection are publicly available and apply to all types and levels of educational institutions. However, there are elements specific to the various subsectors of education and therefore special standards have been drafted for the following types of institutions:


The complex inspection of institutions

In addition to the existing types of inspections, the complex inspection of institutions -   a new element of the pedagogical-professional evaluation system was introduced in 2022. It is specifically focused on the institutions most in need of support, in which, in order to improve the quality of the pedagogical and professional work, the causes of underachievement are targeted and the support focused on eliminating the causes is checked.

A complex inspection consists of sub-processes, which are as follows:

  • the evaluation of three (or more) teachers
  • the evaluation of one of the heads of the institution (head of the institutional unit subjected to the inspection)
  • the evaluation of the institution (member institution, institutional unit)
  • the complex evaluation which is based on the evaluations listed in the previous points and the evaluation of the related expectations

Complex inspections of institutions must be conducted following the Complex Inspection Manual compiled by the Educational Authority and approved by the minister responsible for public education. The manual is available on the website of the Educational Authority.

Teacher appraisal in the teacher promotion system

The teacher appraisal is linked to the teacher's career model, the promotion system of teachers. (Government Decree 401/2023 on the implementation of the Act LII of 2023 on Teachers’ New Career Paths (401/2023. (VIII. 30.) Korm. rendelet a pedagógusok új életpályájáról szóló 2023. évi LII. törvény végrehajtásáról))  Taking into account the natural course of professional development, the promotion system sets different levels for the teacher's progress: Trainee, Teacher I, Teacher II, Master Teacher, Researcher teacher. The participation in the qualification procedure for the Teachers level is compulsory, while reaching a higher category is voluntary. The teacher's guaranteed salary is determined based on the category reached in the promotion system and the years of work experience as a teacher combined. The higher degree the teacher has and the longer the professional practice time is, the higher the guaranteed salary will be. The purpose of this promotion system is to encourage professionalism and the desire to remain in the profession while boosting the continuous professional development of teachers.

  • A two-year traineeship is followed by a qualification examination. After passing it, a Teacher I status is awarded. In case of failing, the Trainee may retake the qualification exam once after two years of traineeship. If failing it again, the Trainee is dismissed.

  • After working as a Teacher I for at least 1 year, teachers may enter an appraisal procedure on their own initiativeto become a Teacher II. If the procedure is unsuccessful, the qualification procedure can be repeated. It may be repeated at the earliest in the year in which two years of professional practice have been completed, starting in the year following the end of the unsuccessful qualification procedure.

  • After working as a Teacher II for 6 years and passing a postgraduate specialist exam, teachers may enter an appraisal procedure to become a Master teacher.

  • Master teachers (in addition to teaching) participate in innovation, development support, institution management, teacher qualification and supervision expert or consultancy activities. In case the teacher participates in expert or consultancy activities they are given time off work.  

A teacher in at least a Teacher II status, who has 14 years of experience and a PhD degree and publishes regularly may apply to become a Researcher teacher

The Minister responsible for education determines the number of participants in the teacher appraisal procedure each year. The qualification exam and appraisal process of teachers is organized by the Educational Authority. The qualification exam and the appraisal process are conducted by a Appraisal Committee consisting of: public education experts included in the National Register of Experts; the head of the public education institution employing the teacher or a senior teacher delegated by the head.

During the appraisal process, every teacher is subject to uniform rules, which are public. The appraisal committee examines the full range of activities of the teacher: pedagogical and professional skills and "knowledge of the profession". The appraisal procedure involves the examination and defense of a portfolio, the attendance of a lesson and the discussion of the experiences gained. The portfolio includes: Curriculum Vitae, fundamental and custom documents of educational work, a short presentation of the environment of the institution employing the teacher and an assessment of the professional proceedings.

Quality assurance of the work of the experts

After the on-site visit during an inspection or a teacher appraisal, both the head of the institution and the teacher concerned can evaluate the work of their supervisors by filling out an online anonymous questionnaire for this purpose.

The auditing of experts started in 2018. At that time, the auditing of expert work was carried out in an ad hoc manner. Currently, auditing focuses primarily on the preparation of experts and the procedure of inspection and teacher appraisal.

The organization of audits and the development of its professional contents are also carried out by the Educational Authority.

Standardized measurements of student performance

Upper secondary school leaving exam

In 2005, the secondary school leaving exam became a two-tier exam based on standardised requirements. It also serves as an entrance examination to higher education institutions. It is suitable for collecting information on the effectiveness of teaching and learning at upper secondary schools.

The changes to the National Core Curriculum in 2020 have an impact on the secondary school leaving examination. From 2024, the previous examination requirements based on the 2012 Core Curriculum, will be replaced by new requirements.

National Assessment of Basic Competences

The National Assessment of Basic Competences was introduced in Hungary in 2001. Since then, a centralised assessment has been organised in every year with two exceptions (in 2005 due to the introduction of the new secondary school leaving examination and in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic).

The tasks in the assessment do not measure the students’ lexical knowledge, but rather how students can apply the knowledge they have acquired in their public education to solve everyday situations.

The main purpose of the assessment of basic competences was to provide feedback on the schools’ performance, but it has evolved in a way that in recent years it can also provide information to students, parents and teachers on the individual progress.

Except for the first experimental years, three grades (6th, 8th and 10th) were measured in two areas (reading comprehension and mathematics) until 2021.

For a few years (between 2006 and 2012), the National Skills Assessment was also linked to the Assessment of Basic Competences, which measured the development of basic skills of pupils in grade 4.

The organisation of the annual National Assessment of Basic Competences is laid down by the Minister responsible for education in a ministerial decree on the organisation of the school year.The central organization of the assessment, the development of the assessment tools, the processing of the measurement data and the publication of the results are carried out by the Educational Authority.

The content, the target groups and the procedures of the National Assessment of Basic Competences (Országos kompetenciaméréshave been modified several times since its introduction in 2001.  Since 2008 students receive an assessment identification number and their results are calculated using a common scoring system. This enables the results of the students from the three grades to be projected onto a common competency scale, which helps to monitor their individual progress.

In the early 2020s the system of the Assessment of Basic Competences has been transformed. On one hand, the system has moved to a digital platform (the previously paper-based assessment is now entirely online), on the other hand the areas of assessment have increased and the number of participants has also expanded.

With the exception of the first few years, until 2021 the assessment measured the reading comprehension (mother tongue) and mathematic competences of students in grades 6, 8 and 10, and since the introduction of the digital assessment in 2022 also the natural science competences.  In 2024, two new measurement areas (digital culture and history) will be added to the measurement system as a pilot.

In 2022, foreign language and foreign (target) language assessments, which have a history of almost a decade, were also standardised. They are now centrally assessed and, as in other areas, student results are reported on a competency scale. As a result, from 2022, these two assessments are also part of the National Assessment of Basic Competences.

In 2023 the number of students participating in the assessment was extended. Not only students from three grades (6, 8 and 10) participate in the assessments, but also students from all grades from 4 to 11.

In the school year 2023/2024, the grades participating in the assessment and the pilot assessment are as follows (Decree on the order of the academic year 2023/2024,  30/2023. (VIII. 22.) BM rendelet a 2023/2024. tanév rendjéről)

•  grades 4 and 5: reading comprehension and mathematics 

•  grade 6-11:  reading comprehension, mathematics, literacy in natural sciences, foreign languages, foreign (target) languages

  • grade 5-11: digital culture, history (pilot assessment).

In upper secondary vocational education, only two competences are measured (reading comprehension, mathematics) at grade 10.

In addition to the national reports, the Education Authority also publishes reports of the results of the competency assessment at site, school and (until 2021) maintainer level. (Reports between 2008-2021: Az országos mérések eredményei (2008-2021-es FIT jelentések); from 2021: Az országos mérések eredményei)

The data provided in a school's own report allows it to analyse the school’s work, and to compare its performance with that of similar or significantly different schools. It also provides outsiders and interested parties a more accurate picture of the schools.

In addition to the tests, students also fill in a background questionnaire. This is an important part of the measurement system, but its completion is voluntary. Students together with their parents answer questions about their socio-cultural background. Questionnaires were available on paper until 2021, and online from 2022. The answers to the questionnaires cannot be known or processed by the school without the consent of the persons concerned (parents, students).

In pedagogy, it is a well-established scientific fact that students' performance is influenced by the social, cultural and economic circumstances of their families. Therefore, the measured performance average alone does not adequately reflect the pedagogical performance of schools with students from diverse backgrounds. The aim of the questionnaire is to provide an analysis of the relationship between the socio-cultural background of students and their performance, both at national and school level.

The assessment is supplemented by a family background index on the socio-cultural background of students. Since 2010, it is possible to monitor the progress of individual pupils and in this way examine the impact of the school. 

Institutions can further analyse their results in their own perspective (after entering the website with a password). With the student's individual assessment identification number, the individual analysis of the student's results can also be accessed.

One of the latest developments of the Education Authority is a data visualisation interface, which makes the results of the National Assessment of Basic Competences easy to evaluate by displaying the information graphically.

Language assessments (until 2021)

The foreign language and foreign (target) language assessments (since 2015 and 2014 respectively) measured the English and German language competence of students in grades 6 and 8 on an annual basis. The assessments tested whether the student met the CEFR levels defined in the framework curriculum (A1 in grade 6, A2 in grade 8; A2 or B1 for the target language assessment). The foreign language assessment (except in bilingual schools) tested the foreign language reading comprehension skills of students in grades 6 and 8 who were learning English or German as their first foreign language. The target language assessment covered grades 6 and 8 in bilingual primary schools.

Since 2022, the language assessments are included in the National Assessment of Basic Competences.

Diagnostic System of Assessing Development

The Diagnostic System of Assessing Development (DIFER) is the first compulsory element in the public education assessment system in Hungary for monitoring the progress of pupils. It is a test system suitable for the diagnostic evaluation of elementary competences for school progression (writing movement coordination, speech listening skills, relational vocabulary, basic calculation, empirical inference, empirical context comprehension, basic social skills) in kindergarten and pre-school age (4-8 years). Its aim is to reduce the individual handicaps stemming from the varying pace of the pupils’ development and progression needs and to successfully establish the basic skills. The system allows detailed tracking of the acquisition of these critical elementary skills. The assessment package also provides a description of the process of acquiring these skills and guidance on how to develop them more effectively.

At the beginning of the school year, primary school teachers are required to identify (based on kindergarten reports or their experiences) which of their first-year students they wish to assess more thoroughly with a diagnostic test (Difer). The diagnostic test is undertaken in the first few months of the school year. Teachers evaluate the scores with a computer programme included in the assessment and they design the ways of individual development. Schools are expected to provide information about the number of students tested to the Educational Authority. According to several years of experience, 30-33% of pupils in first grade are assessed in primary schools each year, but in many schools, in order to improve the effectiveness of development work, the assessment is carried out with all pupils in grade 1, regardless of the pre-assessment.

Physical and fitness status of students

Every school year, the school organises the measurement of pupils’ physical condition and fitness in the grades where children have Physical Education lessons – with the exception of primary and adult education. They upload the measurement results to the National Unified Student Fitness Test (NETFIT) online support system where the physical and fitness status of the pupils can be monitored. An annual research report is prepared on the national results.

Career Guidance Assessment

The Career Guidance Assessment measures the individual learning competences of students in grade 8 of primary school that are essential for making successful career choices and continued education. The results of the test provide feedback to the pupil on the options for further education at secondary level based on his/her existing abilities. The test is administered by schools using digital assessment and support tools developed by the Education Authority.

Thematic evaluations

Monitoring the performance of pupils at risk of dropping out

Educational Authority operates the early warning and pedagogical support system for preventing early school leaving, which helps to track school progress of pupils. Educational institutions may get targeted support by using the data provided to the system (ESL) by schools and Pedagogical Education Centres.

Other thematic evaluations

In addition to regular standardised tests, there are several evaluations covering specific sub-sectors or topics, e.g. kindergarten curricula, effectiveness of mother tongue teaching, basic art education, Roma minority education, studies on the professional conditions of the classes for students with mild intellectual disabilities, the pedagogical programmes of vocational training institutions, the provision of pupils with special needs, kindergarten enrolments, non-formal education, and initial vocational education.

In the last few years, official inspections have been carried out in hundreds of institutions, e.g.: in educational administration, teacher employment areas. Reports summarizing the experiences of these studies provide information on each subsystem of public education.

International student assessments

Hungary regularly participates in PISATIMMSPIRLS and TALIS. International tests organised by the OECD or the IEA are administered and the assessment results are analysed (summary reports) by the Educational Authority.