Quality assurance in pre-primary education and early care
Facilities of care for children up to the age of three, also known as nurseries, are not included in the network of schools and school facilities and they are not a part of the school system. Quality assurance check of the care provided at nurseries is in the competence of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic.
The assessment of the quality of education in kindergartens which provide education and care for children of age between 3-6 is the responsibility of:
- Kindergarten and
- State school inspection
Information on bodies responsible for quality assurance in kindergartens is available in the following part Quality Assurance in Primary and Secondary Education.
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
The provision of care for children in nurseries is considered to be a social service. In compliance with the act on social services, providers of social services are required to meet quality criteria.
The act defines quality criteria, standards and indicators for the provided social service, which are divided into four areas:
- Respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms,
- Procedural requirements,
- Personnel requirements,
- Operational requirements.
The ministry carries out monitoring and assesses the quality of the provided social service through appointed state employees. The expert is required to have a master’s degree in a study programme that focuses on the areas of quality assessment of the provided social service and to have 3-year work experience in this area.
Information on approaches and methods for quality assurance in kindergartens is available in the following part Quality Assurance in Primary and Secondary education: Internal Evaluation and External Evaluation by the State School Inspection.
Quality Assurance in Primary and Secondary Education
The Education Act defines that the quality of education and training is monitored and evaluated by:
- school or school facility,
- State School Inspection (Štátna školská inšpekcia),
- Ministry of Health of the SR, concerning the professional part of the preparation of education for health care programmes at secondary healthcare schools,
- National Institute of Education and Youth (Národný inštitút vzdelávania a mládeže (NIVAM)).
School and school facility
Schools of all kinds and types as well as school facilities providing education and training are obliged, as a part of the internal evaluation, to prepare an annual report evaluating mostly:
- at least a two-year conceptual plan of the school’s or school facility’s development;
- the educational activity, its results, and conditions;
- economic results of the school or school facility.
Schools and school facilities submit the abovementioned reports to the School Board for a statement and to the founder for approval.
The relevance of objections to the content of the report on educational activity, its results and conditions are assessed by the State School Inspection.
State School Inspection
State school inspection:
- is a state education authority,
- performs the external evaluation of schools and school facilities at the national level,
- is an institution independent in its work, and it is governed by law and other legal regulations.
State school inspection performs the control function of state over:
- the quality of pedagogical management,
- the quality of education and material and technical conditions, which includes practical education in schools and school facilities and workplace,
- suitability of premises, material and technological equipment, and didactic technology used in the educational process.
It deals with complaints and petitions in this area.
State School Inspection is headed by the chief school inspector, who is appointed for a five-year term of office as well as removed by the minister.
The chief school inspector:
- submits the plan of inspection activity for the respective year to the minister,
- submits a report on the quality of education at schools and school facilities for a school year, which is based on the findings of the inspection and other findings, to the minister,
- submits proposals on removing a school or a school facility from the network to the ministry upon finding serious shortcomings in the educational process,
- submits proposals on changes in the network of schools to the ministry upon finding serious shortcomings in the educational process, after prior discussion with the founder,
- authorises school inspectors to carry out school inspection,
- creates conditions for the cooperation of school inspectors with founders,
- based on the grounds of finding serious shortcomings, submits a proposal for the dismissal of a headteacher to the founder who is obliged to dismiss the headteacher based on such proposal,
- based on the grounds of finding serious shortcomings in education, submits a proposal for withdrawal of employer certificate to provide practical training in the system of dual education to corresponding institution participating in the coordination of vocational education and training for labour market.
In addition, upon the call of School Board the State School Inspection delegates its representatives to the School Board whotake part and vote in the selection procedure for the post of primary and secondary school headteacher.
National Institute of Education and Youth (NIVAM)
National Institute of Education and Youth (Národný inštitút vzdelávania a mládeže (NIVAM)) is responsible for the preparation and methodological organisation of the course of the external part of examinations and testing of pupils in schools.
NIVAM has the following responsibilities in schools and school facilities
- the creation and distribution to schools of testing tools for the external part of the school leaving examination (maturita), the written form of the internal part of maturita, and the external testing.
- the creation of the database of tasks for testing in primary and secondary school education and the purpose of their use in school practice,
- certified measurement of education, external testing of pupils, external part and written form of maturita examination, their evaluation and analyses,
- international measurements according to the programmes Slovakia is involved in,
- monitoring achievement of performance and qualitative goals in education defined by the relevant state educational programmes and target requirements for graduates of each degree of education,
- monitoring and analysing educational results at the national level and in international comparison.
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
According to the Education Act, schools and school facilities are obliged to create an annual report on educational activity. The report contains information on:
- school or school facility,
- activities of school board or school facility board, about activities of advisory bodies of headteacher (if established),
- number of children, pupils or students,
- number of pedagogical employees, number of professional employees and other staff,
- fulfilment of qualification prerequisites of pedagogical employees,
- presentation activities and public activities,
- projects in which school or school facility participates,
- results of inspection conducted by State school inspection,
- spatial and material and technical conditions,
- areas in which school or school facility achieves good results and areas in which school or school facility faces challenges.
The annual report can contain also:
- information about funding provision of education activities of school or school facility,
- information about school or school facility free time activities for children of pupils,
- information about school or school facility cooperation with children’s or pupils’ parents,
- other relevant information.
The annual report on educational activity is prepared for the last school year and after discussion in pedagogical board it is submitted to corresponding body of school self – governing body by September 15 of the current year for comments. Comments of the school-self -governing body are attached to the report.
After providing comments of the school self – governing body, the report is submitted by October 31 to the school founder for approval.
After school founder’s approval the report is published
The reports are made by headteachers of schools and school facilities in cooperation with other managing pedagogical employees and pedagogical employees. Methodological associations and subject committees, which are founded in schools as advisory bodies to headteachers, provide their help in this.
The relevance of objections to the report is assessed by the State School Inspection.
In addition to the creation of reports on education activity, the internal evaluation is performed within:
- methodological associations at the first level of primary schools and kindergartens,
- subject committees at the second level of primary schools and at secondary schools.
At the end of the assessment period (twice a year), the headteacher of primary and secondary school approves the assessment and marking.
The Education Act binds the managing pedagogical employees to create an internal system of monitoring and evaluation of school’s employees.
The inducing pedagogical employee evaluates the beginning pedagogical employee continuously as well as at the end of the adaptation period.
Superiors evaluate their direct reports once a year by the end of the school year.
The evaluation of pedagogical employees concerns results, quality, and difficulty of teaching performance, and the degree of acquiring and using professional competences.
A written record is made about the evaluation, the content, extent and form of which is the headteacher’s responsibility. The headteacher will define teachers’ evaluation principles in the Staff Regulations.
Evaluation of the headteacher is performed by the founder.
External evaluation is structured with regard to the national and international evaluation of each level of the educational system.
External evaluation by the State School Inspection
School inspection is performed based on the inspection plan (plán inšpekčnej činnosti) for the respective school year, which is approved by the chief school inspector, and also following a complaint.
The main task is constituted by complex (evaluation) inspections, for which the State School Inspection created uniform evaluation criteria for each type of school (kritériá hodnotenia), which it publishes on its website.
State School Inspection (SSI) carries out the following types of inspection:
- complex (evaluation) - usually once in five years,
- thematic and informative – carried out as necessary and according to tasks,
- follow-up inspection – performed in schools where measures were imposed in order to remedy shortcomings found during the inspection. The inspector checks whether the measures imposed have been implemented by the headteacher.
Inspection groups are created from school inspectors according to the type and size of schools.
State School Inspection has:
- a uniform methodology of inspection,
- defined areas, criteria and indicators of evaluation,
- evaluation tools.
Methodologies (procedures) take into account changes in education and incorporate numerous elements from methodologies of inspectorates which are associated with The Standing International Conference of Inspectorates (SICI), member of which is also SSI. The goal of the methodology, innovated according to the changes in legal regulations, is to increase the objectivity and professionalism of school inspection performance and to support the process of schools’ self-evaluation.
Inspection is performed mainly by:
- analysis and synthesis, comparison,
- survey, questionnaire, poll,
- analysis of pedagogical documentation and pupils’ results,
- consultation, inspection of classes, inspection tests,
- inspection of the premises,
- technological means,
- participation in meetings of school’s managing employees, meetings of advisory bodies to school or school facility headteachers, participation in contests and exhibitions of pupils’ creativity.
School inspection inspects schools and school facilities and monitors:
- compliance with generally binding legal regulations and internal regulations and decisions concerning education,
- the process of education and its results,
- teaching professionalism,
- spatial and equipment conditions of the educational process as well as their purposeful and efficient utilisation,
- provision of further education of pedagogical employees,
- meeting qualification requirements of headteachers of school and school facilities,
- compliance of the school educational programme with the state educational programme, goals and principles of education,
- agreement of the educational programme with the goals and principles of education,
- quality of education in individual education,
- quality of education.
State school inspection provides inspected school or school facility with advisory services to eliminate identified shortcomings.
School inspection implements the following measures according to the seriousness of the shortcomings found:
- taking measures on the part of the inspected entity,
- imposing measures,
- commission examination at finding shortcomings in evaluation,
- imposing sanctions according to law.
Results of findings and evaluation from school inspection for a school are recorded in a report on school inspection results, which is created and discussed by school inspectors with the headteacher.
Inspectors define the following in the conclusion of the report:
- positive aspects of the school,
- negative aspects of the school,
- measures to remedy the shortcomings found - if found by inspectors.
Findings and information from all tasks and inspections performed in each type of school (Správy zo školských inšpekcií) are compiled in a report for the Slovak Republic and:
- published on SSI website,
- provided to the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republicand the entities in education whom the findings concern,
- presented in meetings of school headteachers, school founders, at conferences, events connected with education,
- published in print media.
The State School Inspection will prepare a Report on the state and quality of education in schools and school facilities in the Slovak Republic (Správa o stave a úrovni výchovy a vzdelávania) based on the conclusions of all inspection tasks in the respective school year.
The report will contain:
- findings from inspections and complaint investigations,
- recommendations for each type of school and school facility,
State School Inspection’s suggestions and recommendation for the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, its directly managed organisations, headteachers and founders of schools and school facilities, higher education institutions.
The school inspection is carried out by the State School Inspectorate through school inspectors authorized to perform it by the chief school inspector or the director of the school inspection center.
School inspection of school subject religion and religious education is carried out by school inspectors and a person on behalf of the relevant church or religious society according to their internal regulations.
School inspection in special educational establishments and school establishments of educational counseling and prevention are carried out by school inspectors in cooperation with an invited expert from practice.
The school inspection at the vocational training facility is carried out by school inspectors with the participation of a representative of the relevant trade union organization or the relevant professional organization.
The Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic carries out the school inspection of the professional component of training at secondary medical schools.
To qualify as a school inspector, the person must:
- meet higher education qualification requirements for the respective kind, type, and level of school or school facility,
- have eight-year teaching experience at school or school facility,
- complete qualification examination I. or its equivalent and
- have at least three-year experience in a managerial position in education or in a methodological position, or that of a school inspector, or qualification examination II. or its equivalent.
School inspectors must be capable of using the Slovak language in official communication, speak the language of the respective national minority in connection with their work, have personal and moral integrity and qualities required for professional inspection work.
Details of school inspection organisation, fulfilling school inspection’s tasks, procedures and manner of inspection are defined by the decree on school inspection.
External evaluation by the National Institute of Education and Youth (NIVAM)
The core tasks of the NIVAM include
- providing external part and written part of maturita (secondary school leaving examination) assigned by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport in the Slovak Republic,
- providing external testing of primary school pupils in 5th and 9th grade,
- preparation of international measurements in accordance with programmes where the Slovak Republic participates according to their rules.
Testing of primary school pupils
External testing – nationwide testing of primary school pupils takes place according to the educational standards of the state educational programme, and the content and performance elements of the testing are monitored.
External testing aims to provide pupils, their parents or legal representatives, and teachers in particular with feedback in order to improve further education of each student.
All primary school pupils from respective grades including pupils with special educational needs (for whom conditions for taking external testing will be appropriately adjusted) will take part, with the exception of pupils educated according to educational programmes for mentally disabled students.
It takes place in a form of a written test, which verifies pupils’ knowledge in State language/Native language and Mathematics.
Testing takes place annually for the particular grade on the same day in all primary schools. The date is set by the Ministry of Education.
Based on their performance, pupils are ranked. The final ranking of a pupil depends on other pupils’ performance.
The headteacher is responsible for the organisation of external testing in the primary school.
Testing 5 is a nationwide testing of 5th- grade primary school pupils.
The main goal of the testing is:
- to acquire objective information on pupils’ performance at the end of the fifth grade of primary school after the exceptional period of interrupted tuition in the time of COVID-19 pandemic,
- to provide schools, decision-makers, and the professional public with feedback and a more complex picture of pupils’ knowledge and skills in the tested subjects, which will help to improve the quality of the teaching process.
Pupils are tested in Mathematics in Slovak and Mathematics in Hungarian, Slovak Language and Literature, and Hungarian Language and Literature.
Information on the results of the nationwide testing of fifth-grade primary school pupils is published on the website of the NIVAM.
Testing 9 is a nationwide testing of 9th- grade primary school pupils and 4th-grade eight-year gymnasium pupils.
The testing aims to obtain a picture of pupils’ performance at their completion of the 2nd level of primary school, compare their performance in tests, and provide schools with feedback and a more complex picture of the tested subjects, which can help to improve the quality of education.
9th-grade pupils’ results also serve as the basis for admission exams to secondary schools.
Testing 9 also serves as entrance testing for measuring added value in secondary school education.
Testing verifies pupils’ knowledge in: mathematics, Slovak language and literature, Hungarian language and literature, Ukrainian language and literature, Slovak language and Slovak literature.
Information on the results of nationwide testing of 9th grade primary school pupils is published on the website of the NIVAM .
Testing of secondary school pupils
The NIVAM provides the external part and written form of the internal part of maturita (secondary school leaving examination).
Pupils take the external part and the written form of the internal part of maturita after completion of the first term of the last year of secondary education. The date of the external part and the written form of the internal part of maturita is determined by the Ministry of Education and the examination is held at the same time all over the Slovak Republic.
The external part of maturita is comprised of a written test supplied and assessed by the NIVAM. The external part of maturita and correction of tests is supervised by a pedagogical employee who is not an employee of the school at which the external part of maturita is held.
The written form of the internal part of maturita is comprised of a set of topics or assignments set by the NIVAM.
The external part of maturita is taken the following subjects: Slovak language and literature, Slovak language and Slovak literature, Hungarian language and literature, Ukrainian language and literature, Mathematics, English language, French language, German language, Russian language, Spanish language, Italian language.
The written form of the internal part of maturita is taken in the following subjects: Slovak language and literature, Hungarian language and literature, Ukrainian language, English language, French language, German language, Russian language, Spanish language, Italian language.
A pupil will take the external part and the written part of the internal part of maturita only in one foreign language.
The examination aims to verify:
- pupils’ knowledge and skills within the scope of the subject matter defined by the educational plan, curricula, and educational standards,
- pupils’ preparedness to use acquired competences in jobs and professional activities they are preparing for,
- pupils’ preparedness to use acquired competences in further study.
External evaluation at the international level
NIVAM, authorised by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of the Slovak Republic, conducts five international studies: PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS, TALIS, ICCS, ICLIS, PIAAC. The NIVAM publishes the results on its website.
As the national coordination centre for international studies in Slovakia, NIVAM
- develops and adapts evaluation framework and tools for measurement of educational results,
- prepares and organises data collection in participating schools,
- processes data and evaluates results,
- prepares national reports,
- creates output for applied research in education and education policy.
The Slovak Republic has been participating in OECD study PISA since 2003. The last PISA testing in Slovakia took place in May 2022. The main area of testing was mathematical literacy. Results are expected to be published in December 2023. Results of 2018 testing were published in the form of a national report (národná správa).
In 2019, the fourth cycle of the TIMSS international study, which focused on the assessment of mathematics and natural sciences in the fourth grade of primary schools, took place in Slovakia. The results were published in the form of a press report (tlačová správa).
The first pilot TIMSS 2023 measurement took place in 2022.
International PIRLS testing, monitoring the reading literacy of 4th grade primary school pupils’ took place in June 2021. The PIRLS 2021 results should be published in December 2022.
PIRLS 2016 results were published in the report ‘First PIRLS 2016 results for the Slovak Republic (Prvé výsledký štúdie PIRLS 2016).
The 3rd cycle of the international research OECD TALIS 2018 took place in 2018. It focuses on monitoring the influence of educational policies on teachers’ working conditions, the teaching process, and monitoring of teachers’ status and qualification in the international context. The results of the testing are accessible in press reports Main findings of TALIS 2018 Slovakia (Hlavé zistenia TALIS 2018 Slovensko) and Other findings of TALIS 2018 Slovakia (Ďalšie zistenia TALIS 2018 Slovensko).
In 2022, pilot ICILS 2023 measurement took place, which monitors the education level of pupils in the 8th year of school attendance in computer and information literacy.
The Slovak Republic did not participate in cycle of ICILS 2018.
In 2022, the Slovak Republic participated in the 3rd cycle of ICCS on civic education and training. ICCS 2022 results should be published in 2023.
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