The law specifies basic approaches and bodies responsible for assessment and assurance of quality in education.
In the last ten years, the main effort of quality development in school education was self-evaluation of educational institutions. The self-evaluation process has been since 2008 compulsory for all kindergartens and schools. Since 2006, it has been compulsory for vocational and technical schools. The procedures and criteria for self-evaluation are not prescribed. They are in the realm of the educational institution's autonomy.
There are elements of external evaluation that add to the self-evaluation (national assessment of knowledge in grades 6 and 9 of basic school, matura and vocational matura at the end of upper secondary general or vocational education, national evaluation studies, accreditation of education programmes and institutions, supervising the introduction of new and modernised education programmes.
The school inspectorate examines if educational institutions pursue their activity according to law.
The promotion of education staff to salary and titles can be understood as an element of the quality assurance system.
Internal quality assurance
Head teacher: operational manager and educational head. The head teacher plans and manages the activities of a kindergarten and/or school, plans development, drafts the annual work plan and is responsible for the realisation of the plan. The head teacher is responsible for quality assessment and assurance, namely with self-evaluation and the annual report on self-evaluation of the kindergarten and/or school. In the scope of the annual performance assessment, the head teacher assess the performance of staff at the institution and decides to promote the staff to salary grades. Furthermore, the head teachers submits the assessment of performance of education staff and can recommend the promotion to titles.
Council of kindergarten or school: it is competent to adopt the development programme of the institution, annual work plan, and the report on the realisation of the plan, as well as the annual self-evaluation report.
Quality committee: a school body that carries out vocational and professional education and training, supervises and assesses the quality of educational activities at the institution.
The National school of leadership in education and other public research institutes provide head teachers and education staff with support in the process of self-evaluation, and promote the development of self-evaluation skills and capacities of kindergartens and schools, namely through training and network of educational institutions. Public research institutes complement their support to raise common awareness about quality in education.
External quality assurance
The competence in accreditation of education programmes and educational institutions is shared by the Minister responsible for education and national councils of experts, members of which are nominated by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia:
- Council of experts of the Republic of Slovenia for general education
- Council of expert of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education, and
- Council of experts of the Republic of Slovenia for adult education.
The councils of experts receive professional support by the National education institute Slovenia, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education and training, and Slovenian institute for adult education; the Ministry responsible for education provides administrative support.
Minister responsible for education
- Takes decision on education programmes, namely together with relevant councils of experts
- Appoints the Quality and evaluation council
- Adopts the draft evaluation studies on the recommendation of the Quality and evaluation council
- Defines the novelties to be introduced as trial; defines the procedure of introduction, monitoring and evaluation, the procedure and operators of monitoring the trial, as well as procedure of selection of schools and kindergartens participating in the trial
- Appoints the national examination committees, and
- Takes decisions on promotion of education staff to titles.
Quality and evaluation council (sl): coordinates the evaluation of preschool, basic and upper secondary education programmes, and report to the Minister responsible for education. It defines strategies and the course of evaluation. It identifies common evaluation issues, puts forward the commissioning of evaluation studies, invitations and selection of evaluation studies. The council monitors the procedure and report to the council of experts, the Minister, as well as to the professionals.
Public research institutes: national education institute, national institutes for vocational education, and for adult education have by law the obligation to monitor systematically the effects of innovations introduced into the process of education. Their main responsibility is to monitor the development of kindergartens and school, provide support in transferring their knowledge into practice, and assess the quality of different practices. The institute for vocational education by law and relevant quality specified develops national report on quality in vocational and technical education.
The Educational research institute undertakes basic, applied research, and research in development.
The external assessment of knowledge, matura exams and other exams are the responsibility of national committees appointed by the Minister responsible for education:
- Committee for the national assessment of knowledge
- National committee for final examination in vocational education
- National committee for the Vocational Matura with subject testing committees, and
- National committee for matura with subject testing committees
The competence and responsibilities of national committees are specified by the Matura Examination Act (en), Basic school Act (en), and rules on assessment and progression of pupils (sl). The National examinations centre appoints the national committees for exams in foreign languages for adults and national vocational qualification. The institute is the central authority responsible for external assessment of knowledge. It pursues professional, technical and administrative activities to support national committees.
Inspectorate of education and sport: constituent body within the ministry, responsible for education, responsible for inspection of regularity of operations in kindergartens, basic schools, music schools, upper secondary schools, higher vocational colleges, and institutions for education of SEN children, organisations for adult education and private providers that deliver officially recognised programmes. It organisation, inspection areas and authorities are specified by the School Inspection Act (sl).
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
Internal quality assurance
Since 2008, all kindergartens and schools have to carry out periodic self-evaluation. The Organisation and Financing of Education Act (en) specifies the obligation of head teachers to assess and assure quality with self-evaluation.
Schools or kindergartens have to develop annual reports on self-evaluation. The councils of relevant institutions examine and adopt the reports. The law does not specify the process of self-evaluation as such (contents, structure, etc.). The implementation differs among institutions as to field of evaluation, indicators, method. The outcome of self-evaluation is reference for the development of school or kindergarten and is not communicated to higher levels of authority. Schools can choose to publish the self-evaluation report online on own webpage.
In the scope of annual planning, the councils of kindergartens and schools evaluate once a year or more the realisation of the annual work plan. In practice, the self-evaluation report often accompanies the report on the realisation of the annual work plan. In this way, it is possible to make reasonable association between development and evaluation processes at the institution. The expert bodies of kindergartens or schools can conduct critical evaluation of educational activities by individual classes or by kindergarten or school in entirety. All staff, parents and learners take part in the process. An important role have the school counselling services. The assembly of teacher, council of parent and school council examine once a year the school report, assess the results and effects of the programme and school policy, form opinions on the report, as well as propose changes. At the beginning of the next school year, the development programme of the institution and the new annual work plan reflect the findings of internal evaluation. Schools apply to assess the quality of own activities information and data of national and international comparative studies of learning outcomes. Schools receive information about the outcomes of their students in national assessments of knowledge, matura and vocational matura, as well as information about average and best outcomes at national level.
By law, the vocational and technical upper secondary schools have to assure quality in line with the quality assurance framework of the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET). Schools delivery vocational and technical upper secondary education have to have a special body competent exclusively to monitor quality – a quality committee. It is appointed by the school council on the recommendation of the heat teacher. It includes representatives of school education staff, employers, students and parents. It has to develop annual report and publish the report on the school webpage. The head teacher is responsible (in cooperation with the quality committee for self-evaluation, communication of the self-evaluation report to the council of the institution and publication of the quality report or quality committee’s activity on the school webpage. The head teacher is responsible as well for communication of information to the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education and training. The institute applies the information in the process of developing the national report on quality in vocational and technical education. The institute provides support to schools and offer counsel on assuring and assessing quality. It developed the recommendation for self-evaluation (sl).
In years past, various projects led by the public institutes in education supported the development of the self-evaluation processes and skills of educational institutions for its implementation. The product of projects have been non-compulsory guidelines for self-evaluation, protocol and collection of indicators, and tools the help schools conduct self-evaluation more efficiently, and raise awareness of the common understanding of quality in education.
External quality assurance
Kindergartens and schools conduct external quality assessment in different ways:
- External assessment of knowledge
- Comparative assessment of outcomes in individual fields at international level
- National evaluation studies
- Trial implementation of innovations
- Period quality assessment in (system) of education by public research institutes
- Assessment of the relevance of education programmes, and
External assessment of knowledge of basic school students and final exams after 4-year upper secondary education are the responsibility of national committees and the National examinations centre. Students have to sit national assessment of knowledge after the second educational cycle (grade 6) and in the final grade 9. The learning outcomes in national assessment of knowledge do not influence the final grade in basic school. It purpose is of formative nature. It provides students additional information on their knowledge, and to teachers, feedback and background for improvement in their teaching. The systems applies the information about outcomes as feedback on meeting the standards of knowledge of separate generations of students. The learning outcomes have no bearing on the evaluation of a school or teachers. Schools can publish aggregated learning outcomes by choice.
Matura and vocational matura examinations have a different objective. Exams are qualifying and selective at the same time. Passing candidates obtain upper secondary education and an option to continue education at the tertiary level. The Matura examination Act specifies the contents, rights and obligations of students, the members and competence of matura bodies, as well as procedure and method of taking matura exams. The Minister responsible for education issues rules on the course and method of delivery of exams. The national examination committees specify the actual implementation instructions.
By law, it is forbidden to rank schools by learning outcomes in national assessment, matura or vocational matura.
The National examinations centre organised other assessment of knowledge, as well. Candidates take examination in foreign language, for example, according to officially recognised subject-curricula. Candidates who pass receive an officially recognised certificate. Examinations are in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe. The exercise of external assessment are developed by an expert group including foreign language teachers from language schools, non-formal adult education organisations and universities. Written exams are assess by the competent assessors. Common assessment instructions and criteria apply. In this way, one guarantees relevant standard of competence in foreign language.
Repeated international large-scale studies led by OECD and IEA provide support to the comparable international assessment of outcomes of students in individual fields (reading literacy, numerical literacy, science, citizenship, language, digital, etc.). The national education research institute has competence in implementing researches in learning outcomes.
Evaluations studies are two-year, as a rule. The quality and evaluation council recommends topics of evaluation and selects studies for the Ministry responsible for education to fund. The education research institute coordinates the evaluation studies and carries out procedures required for the implementation.
The research institutes monitor trial implementation of innovations. The Minister responsible for education decides that the innovations in programmes, organisation and funding of education have to be tested before the implementation on selected schools or kindergartens, namely with a trial. Introduction, monitoring and evaluation of new education programmes, new programme elements and innovations is conducted according to the procedures as specified by the rules on modernising educational process (sl). Public research institutions collect information about new programmes and help solve problems directly within the pedagogical practice.
Public research institutes at different levels of education pursue periodic monitoring of quality in education.
- The National education institute Slovenia is competent to examine quality in kindergartens, basic school and institutions for education of SEN children.
- National examinations centre analyses annually the outcomes of examinations, namely by subjects, municipalities and schools. The information about the learning outcome by schools is not public. Schools use the information to assess own quality of work. It pursues professional, technical and administrative activities to support examination committees. It participates in the activities of bodies and research groups involved with assessing and assuring quality in kindergartens, basic school, upper secondary schools, and adult education organisations.
- The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education and training assesses the quality of vocational and technical education system according to the defined methodology, indicators, information of schools, and other statistical information. The quality indicators are specified by the Council of expert of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education. The institute develops and publishes annually the report on quality in vocational and technical education. The report includes information collected about the quality of schools. The report does not allow one to rank schools.
- The National research institute conducts basic, applied research and research in development in education.
The councils of experts assess relevance of education programmes. The council of experts for general education has competence in the field of adopting education programmes in general education and preschool education, education programmes for students in residence halls, education and special education programmes for students with special needs. The council of experts for vocational education has competence in the field of adopting education programmes for vocational and/or technical education. The competent council of experts is responsible for the procedure of official recognition of programmes of private schools. It examines if the proposed private school programme achieves the specified standard of knowledge. If the programme meets the quality standards, it is awarded official recognition and the relevant public school can issue educational certificates or award officially recognised qualification.
The Inspectorate of education and sport conducts inspection of kindergartens and schools. Once every 5 years, it has to conduct an announced inspection of a kindergarten or school. It conducts announced or surprise inspections at the suggestion of students, their parents or guardians, council of parents, or community of students or staff. If it identifies faults, it can repeat the inspection. Aim of the school inspectorate is to make sure that one applies with regulations and thereby protect the rights of children and learners. The areas of inspection:
- funding, and
- delivery of education programmes.
Inspectors examine if the requirements for educational activities, compliance of organisation and exercising the rights of students and learners, as well as education staff are being met. Furthermore, it inspects if the education staff honours obligations and if pedagogical documents are properly kept.