In accordance with the Law on the Education System Foundations, on local level, district school authorities are responsible for expert pedagogical monitoring in all institutions and for supporting the development planning during the creation of preschool programmes and curricula and in the field of quality assurance. The institutions on their own or in collaboration with district school authorities are responsible for improving and developing the quality of work, assessment and programmes, as well as conditions for its maintenance.
In accordance with this law, responsible bodies for quality assurance for all levels in pre-university education are:
- Ministry of Education
- Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation
- National Education Council
- Institute for the Improvement of Education
According to the Law on the Education System Foundations, the Ministry of Education:
- plans and monitors the development of education in general;
- specifically plans and monitors the improvement of the quality of education based on the relevant data collected by the Unique Information System of Education, research, analysis and evaluation of education;
- supervises the work of institutions including the Institutes;
- plans, coordinates and organises CPD programmes;
- monitors the results of the achievement of the set goals of education on a national level;
- specifically plans and monitors the implementation of measures related to the coverage of children, students and adults on all levels of education and the prevention of their drop/out;
- establishes international cooperation on the development of the education system;
- ensures participation in comparative and evaluation studies related to education policies in EU programmes and the participation of representatives of the Republic of Serbia in working groups and other relevant activities;
- establishes and manages the Unique Information System of Education in the Republic of Serbia and provides access to data and their protection;
- keeps the register and issues licenses for the work of teachers, non-teaching professionals, school heads and school secretaries.
The Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation performs activities in the area of quality assurance, implementation of general educational principles, achievement of educational goals and maintenance of achievement standards. The Institute has four organizational units – centres, namely:
- Centre for quality assurance of the work of institutions;
- Centre for exams;
- Centre for international and national tests and activities related to the development and research;
- Centre for educational technology.
The Centre for quality assurance of the work of institutions develops educational standards; develops quality standards of the work of institutions; participates in the external evaluation of the institutions; develops methodology and instruments for self-evaluation and external evaluation of the work of institutions; develops and implements training programmes in the field of self-evaluation; develops and implements training programmes for assessing the pedagogical added value of school as an indicator of the quality of the work of the institution; develops and implements training programmes in the field of monitoring students’ progress; by assessing the preparation and publication in the field of quality assurance of institutions, it prepares publications in the field of external evaluation of the system, self-evaluation of institutions and promotion of the quality of institutions.
As regards the quality assurance, the National Education Council provides opinion and recommendations on:
- the current education status and its correspondence with the European education principles;
- directions for development and improvement of education;
- strategic plans and documents related to education development;
- general and special achievement standards, standards of teachers’ competences and their professional development, standards of school management competences, standards of textbooks and teaching aids quality, standards of special education programmes implementation and standards of schools’ quality;
- preschool and school curricula fundamentals;
- proposing solutions for preventing dropout and early school leaving;
- making proposals regarding the education of teachers, early childhood teachers and non/teaching professionals;
- giving an opinion on the proposal of the final examination programme; giving suggestions on the needs for new textbooks and teaching aids;
- collecting opinions of other relevant bodies and groups, etc.
The Institute for the Improvement of Education undertakes expert activities within preschool and school education, as directed by the Ministry and in accordance with the legislation. The Institute consists of three centres:
- Centre for Curricula and Textbooks Development
- Centre for Professional Development of Education Staff
- Centre for Vocational and Adult Education
The Centre for Curricula and Textbooks Development is responsible for determining standards of textbooks and teaching aids quality, curricula and conditions on the implementation of special programmes within preschool and school education.
The Centre for Professional Development of Education Staff is responsible for determining the standards of teachers and other education staff competences and their professional development, the improvement of the system of continuous professional development of education staff and the approval of professional development programmes.
The Centre for Vocational and Adult Education is responsible for determining the standards within vocational and adult education, the preparation of curricula and the final exam programme, determining the standards of textbooks and teaching materials and assessing the fulfilment of all standards through quality assurance procedures.
According to the Law on the Education System Foundations, the Ministry of Education coordinates the work of national education inspectors and educational advisors.
Education inspectors control the educational institutions’ compliance with the legislation within the education system, the implementation of children/pupils’/students’, parents’ and school staff’s rights and their protection, provision of protection from discrimination, violence and neglect, admission procedures, examination procedures and the provision of school records and documents. The inspection is organised on two levels:
- local (municipal) inspection is the first instance body
- national education inspection under the Ministry of Education is the second instance body.
Educational advisors’ work is regulated by the Bylaw on Professional Educational Supervision. Educational advisors control the quality of work in educational institutions, the professional development of teachers and the standards of teachers’ competences. The Evaluation may take place on a regular basis, according to the annual plan of activities or on call of any education actors in case of an emergency. The evaluation of an educational institution’s work may occur in several forms:
- Direct monitoring of teaching by observing teaching activities;
- Attending an institution’s management activities or parents' council meetings;
- Analysing the external quality assurance report;
- Reviewing school records and documents;
- Reviewing pedagogical documentation;
- Reviewing institution’s development plans, quality improvement of work plans, individual education plans, self-evaluation reports and other documents.
The evaluation of the work of school management and preschool management, teachers and other staff is individual and it may include different sources of information.
The educational advisor compiles an evaluation report which includes suggestions for future actions of an institution. The report is delivered to the institution’s head.
Advisors’ work is regulated by the Bylaw on Professional Educational Supervision. Advisors are appointed by the Ministry of Education to provide the counselling and expert help to teachers, preschool teachers, education staff, heads of institutions and governing boards and school boards.
Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance
According to the Bylaw on the quality evaluation of institutions, the procedures of external and internal evaluation, their connection with the development plan of the institution and indicators of evaluation and monitoring have been defined. The evaluation refers to the monitoring of different aspects of individual institutions. This procedure covers internal (self-evaluation) and external evaluation.
Internal quality assurance is a continuous process of re-thinking and re-evaluation of current practice. It is performed each year for some areas (areas that are in focus), while the complete quality assurance procedure (with all the areas of evaluation included) is performed every 4–5 years. The internal evaluation covers a whole set of inputs provided by the school management, teachers, other staff, children/pupils’/students, parents and the local community. The internal quality assurance provides and strengthens the autonomy of an institution and ensures professional development of teachers.
The Internal Evaluation Team oversees the internal evaluation process (data collection, planning, reporting, etc.). The main support to the Team is provided by the district school authority and the Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation. Institutions use feedback on their performance and quality (which is provided as evaluation results) to identify the ways for the improvement of their practices, further development and management.
The internal quality assurance is achieved through the self-evaluation of:
- programme quality and the quality of its implementation:
- teaching forms and methods’ quality;
- achievement of educational goals and standards;
- professional development of school staff;
- working and teaching conditions and children/pupils’/students’ and parents’ satisfaction.
Upon the completion of the self-evaluation process, based on the published report, the institution creates a Development Plan.
External quality assurance is overseen by the Ministry, district school authorities and the Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation. External quality assurance is conducted at least once every five years. The Ministry publishes an Annual External Quality Assurance Plan, comprising a number of institutions to be evaluated, a timeline and the composition of the Evaluation Team. The Team then compiles the Evaluation Report, awarding marks from 1 to 4 (4 being the highest mark). Based on the report, an institution produces a Plan for Quality Improvement.
In addition to the external quality evaluation, there are occasional pedagogical supervisions focusing on teacher appraisal performed by educational advisors and coordinated by the Ministry. These supervisions are foreseen in annual plans, but they can be done upon a request from top-level, local-level authorities or school staff. Once the professional educational supervision is done, an educational advisor who performed the supervision reports on it to the Ministry and a local authority (which then informs a school in a form of feedback on their work).