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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in adult education and training


11.Quality assurance

11.3Quality assurance in adult education and training

Last update: 15 March 2023

Adult education and training provision is vast and depend on those responsible for training and providers. 

Responsible bodies

Adult education is mainly provided by the education authorities, although it is sometimes complemented by education provided by the employment authorities. In this respect, there are three types of training:

1. Lifelong learning

The bodies responsible for the evaluation of specific plans for lifelong learning are:

  • the regional education authorities;
  • the Subdirectorate General for Lifelong Learning of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP), in charge of the academic organisation of adult education and the development of the training provision in the relevant area of management of the Department regarding this issue. It also manages the Centre for the Innovation and Development of Distance Education (CIDEAD) and specific distance provision for adults.

2. Professional training system

All the public administrations with competence in this area ensure the quality of all the actions and services within the vocational training system, especially vocational guidance, the training provided in all the learning environments and in all modalities, and the accreditation of professional competences. To this end, the High Inspectorate of Education and the Educational Inspection are responsible for the inspection, supervision and evaluation of this system.

The General State Administration (GSA) establishes and coordinates an evaluation system for the vocational training system to ensure its continuous improvement and innovation, in collaboration with the Administrations with competences in this area and the most representative business and trade union organisations.

In addition, the GSA, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities, must draw up and submit to the General Council for Vocational Training and theNational School Council, within its sphere of competence, and publish a biennial report on the state of the vocational training system, which must include:

  • The information requested from and provided by the Autonomous Communities about results in their respective territories.
  • The results obtained by random verifications and evaluations assigned to independent bodies.
  • The competent administrations and all vocational training institutions are required to transfer the necessary data for the compilation of the Report on the state of the system. The content of the report is to be agreed upon within the framework of the territorial cooperation bodies and the General Council for Vocational Training.
  • Every four years, the Report on the state of the vocational training system must include a study on the provision of training cycles and their adequacy to student demand, the employability rate of vocational training students and the present and future human capital needs of the public and private sectors.

3. Occupational training promoted from outside the vocational training system by other authorities, in particular, the Employment Authorities

The Employment Authorities are in charge of promoting occupational training for the adult population, complementing the actions of the vocational training system.

The responsible bodies for quality assessment are:

  • the Public State Employment Service (SEPE);
  • the National Foundation for Training in Employment (FUNDAE);
  • the competent bodies in the different autonomous communities.

SEPE is an autonomous body of the State General Administration, currently attached to the Ministry of Employment and Social Economy, which is entrusted with the promotion, design and development of Employment Policy measures and actions. 

FUNDAE in collaboration with SEPE, as its technical support,  are both in charge of managing the training initiatives for employment. They also support evaluation, monitoring and control activities, as well as the implementation of telematic systems for their development and execution.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

There are different mechanisms for evaluating adult education, depending on the type of training concerned. They are the following: 

Assessment in adult education within the education system

Characteristics of the evaluation of adult education:

  • It is conducted in public or private educational institutions which are authorised to offer distance education for adults.
  • If students reside out of the locality where the authorised institution is located, external evaluations can be conducted outside such locality, in accordance with the requirements of the collaboration agreement between the distance learning educational institutions for adults, or through other forms that will ensure the proper conduct of the tests.

Evaluation of educational institutions

The educational administrations  of the autonomous communities may, within the framework of their powers, draw up and carry out plans for the evaluation of educational institutions, which take into account the socio-economic and cultural situations of families and pupils, the environment of the school and its resources. They must also support and facilitate school self-evaluation.

Evaluation of the teaching and managerial functions

The education administrations of the Autonomous Communities may, within the framework of their competences, draw up plans for the evaluation of the public teaching function, with the aim of improving the quality of teaching and the professional practice of the teaching staff. They may also draw up plans for the assessment of the managerial function.

Plans for the evaluation of the teaching staff in the civil service must include the following characteristics:

  • be drawn up with the participation of teachers and be public;
  • include the aims and assessment criteria, as well as the way in which teachers, the educational community and the administration participate in the evaluation process;
  • encourage voluntary teacher evaluation;
  • establish the necessary procedures so that the results of these assessments, together with in-service training, research and innovation activities, are taken into account in competitions for transfers and career advancement.

Evaluation in the vocational training system

Vocational training provision shall include an assessment process to verify the acquisition of learning outcomes under the quality conditions established in the basic elements of the curriculum. This assessment shall respect the methodological and resource adaptation needs for people with specific educational or training support needs.

The evaluation system of any programme included in the vocational training system must be adapted to the different learning methodologies and must be based on the verification of learning outcomes.

In the case of programmes targeted at the active population, the evaluation system takes into consideration the specific characteristics of these people and the practical nature of such training.

The evaluation of the quality of the vocational training system is carried out according to the indicators set out in the European Quality Assurance Framework for Vocational Training (EQAVET).

The purposes of the evaluation of the vocational training system are:

  • The identification, description and analysis of the relevant elements for the quality of the provision and the implementation of vocational training programmes and actions, the accreditation of competences and vocational guidance.
  • The presentation of evidence allowing for informed decisions to be taken in order to improve the functioning of the system and its results.

In turn, the evaluation system for the vocational training system has the following characteristics:

  • the implementation of an internal and external assessment process on a continuous basis as part of a cycle of continuous improvement;
  • the compilation of information in accordance with a system of quality indicators;
  • the use of various sources of verification to ensure the three-way validation of data;
  • the principles of all public evaluation: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, social impact and sustainability.

Evaluation in occupational training promoted from outside the vocational training system by other authorities, in particular, the Employment Authorities

It is the responsibility of each competent public administration, in its respective field, to ensure the quality of these training programmes. To this end, the following measures are carried out through the training evaluation:

  • a continuous evaluation process in its field of action;
  • an annual plan to evaluate the quality, impact, effectiveness and efficiency of the system as a whole, the conclusions and recommendations of which should lead to the incorporation of improvements in the programmes functioning;
  • the implementation of systems and mechanisms for the continuous improvement of quality in the institutions providing the training actions. In order to measure quality, certain criteria and indicators are established in accordance with instruments developed for this purpose. 

In turn, the institutions and organisations providing the training themselves must collaborate in the evaluation of the training they deliver. Likewise, the competent administrations publish the results of the evaluations carried out, creating an easily accessible and identifiable information and consultation space for this purpose.

As for the monitoring and control of training actions, each competent public administration monitors all initiatives and delivery methods and evaluates the results of the training, thus contributing to the measurement of its impact. 

Participation of Spain in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

The PIAAC programme assesses the competencies of adults aged 16 to 65 in key information processing skills: reading comprehension, mathematics and adaptive problem solving in IT environments. It also collects information on how adults use their skills in their daily lives and at work. This international assessment has so far been carried out in 40 countries and economies. Spain participated in the first edition of this study in 2013, and it participates as well in the second edition. The gathering of information for the main study of this second cycle is taking place between September 2022 and April 2023.