The education system has two differentiated pathways to carry out a quality assessment: educational inspection and evaluation.
The inspection of the Education System is carried out on all its elements and aspects with the following purposes:
- ensuring compliance with the law;
- guaranteeing the rights and duties of those participating in the teaching and learning processes;
- contributing to the improvement of the education system;
- favouring the quality and equity of education.
The evaluation of the education system has the following purposes:
- contributing to the improvement of the quality and equity of education;
- directing educational policies;
- increasing the transparency and effectiveness of the education system;
- offering information on the degree of compliance with the improvement objectives established by the education authorities;
- providing information on the degree of achievement of the Spanish and European educational objectives, as well as on compliance with the educational commitments made concerning the demand of the Spanish society and the goals set in the context of the European Union.
Regardless of the territorial scope (state or autonomous region) in which they are applied, the results of the evaluations of the education system cannot be used for individual assessments of pupils or to establish school rankings.
The bodies responsible for the evaluation of the quality of the education system in pre-primary, primary and secondary education are the following:
- State Educational Inspectorate;
- National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEE), which reports to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP)
- educational inspection bodies of the Autonomous Communities;
- bodies for the evaluation of the education system in the Autonomous Communities.
State Educational Inspectorate
The State Educational Inspectorate features the following particularities:
- It is carried out by the State through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP).
- It is in charge of ensuring compliance with the powers conferred on the State as well as observance of the constitutional principles and regulations and the different acts on education throughout the national territory.
- It is organized as a peripheral service of the General State Administration and is integrated in the Government delegations in each autonomous community.
- The Government Delegations coordinate these services in the area of non-university education, submit the reports and minutes derived from the State Inspectorate's performance in this area to the MEFP, and also establish the corresponding collaboration with the Autonomous Communities.
Its powers are the following:
- check compliance with the requirements established by the State in the general organisation of the education system regarding branches, stages, cycles and specialities and the corresponding number of years in each case;
- check that the basic aspects of the curriculum have been included in the curricula established by the education authorities and that they comply with the relevant national organisation;
- check compliance with the conditions for the awarding, issuing and recognition of certificates, as well as their academic and professional validity;
- ensure compliance with basic conditions guaranteeing the equality of all Spaniards in the exercise of their rights and duties in education, as well as with their linguistic rights;
- verify that subsidies and grants are awarded financed from the General State Budget, in accordance with the general criteria established by national regulations.
National Institute for Educational Evaluation of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
The National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEE) is the body of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training responsible for the evaluation of the Spanish education system, in collaboration with the education authorities.
This collaboration was established in 2004 with the creation of the Educational Evaluation Working Group (GTEE), coordinated by INEE, in which the Autonomous Communities participate by sending representatives to the annual meetings. Its objectives are:
- to serve as an instrument of representation of the educational administrations in the area of educational evaluation, as well as to become a stable information and participation body for decision-making in these matters;
- to provide cohesion and consistency in the evaluation of the Spanish education system through the creation and coordination of working groups and committees dealing with specific technical aspects, such as the development of common diagnostic frameworks or the development of the national system of education indicators.
INEE's functions and responsibilities are set out in Organic Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), as amended by Organic Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE) and in Royal Decree 498/2020 which develops the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and are as follows:
- the coordination of policies for the general evaluation of the education system;
- the establishment of methodological and scientific standards guaranteeing the quality, validity and reliability of educational evaluations;
- the development of a common evaluation framework to serve as a reference for diagnostic evaluations, together with the corresponding bodies of the education administrations;
- the implementation, in collaboration with the relevant bodies in the education administrations, of the evaluations assigned to the MEFP by the regulations in force;
- the development of a common evaluation framework to serve as a reference for diagnostic evaluations, together with the corresponding bodies of the education administrations;
- the development of the National System of Education Indicators, which will contribute to knowledge on the education system, as well as to inform decision-making by educational institutions and all the sectors involved in education. The education authorities of the Autonomous Communities will provide the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport with the relevant data required;
- the carrying out of research and evaluation studies of the education system, as well as the dissemination of the information and knowledge offered by these actions and by national and international evaluations;
- management of information and documentation networks on education systems (EURYDICE-Spain, REDIE and others).
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport will periodically publish the conclusions of general interest of the evaluations carried out by the National Institute for Educational Evaluation in collaboration with the education authorities, and will share the information of the National System of Education Indicators.
Educational inspection of the Autonomous Communities
It is carried out on all elements and aspects of the education system. It is the link between the administration and educational institutions, and plays a key role in external school evaluation processes.
Its main functions are the following:
- monitor, evaluate and control, from a pedagogical and organisational point of view, the functioning of educational institutions, as well as the projects and programmes they develop, in compliance with the framework of autonomy of the institutions themselves;
- supervise the teaching practice and the managerial function, and cooperate in their constant improvement;
- participate in the evaluation of the education system and all its elements;
- monitor compliance with the acts, regulations and other provisions on the education system that are in force in educational institutions;
- ensure compliance and implementation of the principles and values of the Education Act, including those aimed at promoting real equality between men and women;
- provide counselling, guidance and information to the various sectors of the educational community in exercising their rights fulfilling their obligations;
- submit the reports required by the relevant education authorities, or those arising from the understanding of reality inherent to educational inspection, through the established;
- guide management teams in the adoption and monitoring of measures that favour coexistence, participation of the educational community and resolution of conflicts, promoting and participating, when necessary, in mediation processes.
The Autonomous Communities have regulated and passed regulations on the organisation and functioning of their educational inspection services. In the case of the Autonomous Communities which have defined and approved their own School Evaluation Plan, the Inspectorate carries out the external evaluation in accordance with the Plan, which occasionally implies collaborating with other regional evaluation institutions.
The educational inspection is carried out by the Inspectorate civil servants. In undertaking their tasks, they are to be considered a public authority and their responsibilities include:
- be familiar with, supervise and observe all the activities carried out in the institutions, both public and private, to which they will have free access;
- examine and check any academic, pedagogical and administrative documentation of schools;
- have the collaboration of other civil servants and those responsible for public and private educational institutions and services in order to carry out their activities;
- participate in the meetings of the collegiate or teaching coordination bodies of the institutions, respecting the exercise of autonomy granted to them by law, as well as taking part in commissions, boards and tribunals, when so determined;
- submit reports and make requests when there is a breach in the application of the regulations, and draw up minutes, either on their own initiative or at the request of the corresponding administrative authority;
- any other duties attributed to it by the educational administrations, within the scope of its competences.
Bodies for the evaluation of the education system in the Autonomous Communities
Some Autonomous Communities have set up specific institutions for the evaluation of the education system. In some others, this type of evaluation is carried out by units of the education administration which are not exclusively devoted to this activity.
The main functions of these bodies in the non-university area in all the Autonomous Communities are:
- implementation of the general assessments of the education system and the development and monitoring of diagnostic assessments in the fourth year of primary education and in the second year of compulsory secondary education;
- cooperation in the implementation of the National System of Education Indicators.
Furthermore, the educational authorities entrust other functions to these bodies:
- the evaluation of educational centres;
- the drafting of reports;
- the dissemination and promotion of the results of educational evaluation;
- any processes that can contribute to the quality and improvement of teaching and education;
- educational innovation and research;
- the elaboration of educational indicators for each autonomous community.
Both the characteristics and the functions of these bodies are different in each autonomous community.
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
At State level, the education system is evaluated through the following processes:
- the National System of Education Indicators;
- the general evaluations of the education system, in the last year of primary education and compulsory secondary education;
- the participation in international educational evaluation projects, led by different supranational bodies.
At a regional level, each education administration, within its respective scope of action, exercises certain powers
- support and facilitate school self-evaluation;
- draw up and carry out plans for the evaluation of educational institutions, which will take into account the socio-economic and cultural situations of families and pupils, the environment of the school and its resources;
- draw up plans for the assessment of the management function in order to improve the functioning of schools;
- encourage schools to draw up proposals for action that will help pupils achieve the established skills, enable them to adopt measures to improve the quality and equity of education and guide teaching practice.
Educational institutions may design and carry out their own internal or external evaluations.
Evaluation of the education system
At a State level, the evaluation of the education system is the responsibility of the National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEE), in collaboration with the education authorities. This evaluation is conducted through different mechanisms:
- the National System of Education Indicators (SEIE);
- external end-of-stage evaluations in Primary Education and Compulsory Secondary Education;
- participation in international evaluation studies.
National System of Education Indicators (SEIE)
The SEIE is a compilation of educational data in Spain dawn up by the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, together with the Subdirectorate General for Statistics and Studies, with the aim of providing an overview of education in Spain. It has these characteristics:
- It contributes to knowledge on the education system, as well as to inform decision-making by educational institutions and all the sectors involved in education.
- It presents the results of the main educational statistics, both at national level and broken down into Autonomous Communities.
- It provides international data placing the country in the framework of the OECD and the European Union.
Its first version was published in 2000 and, since then, eighteen editions have been released, the latest in 2022.
At present, the National System of Education Indicators comprises 19 indicators, which are in turn divided into sub-indicators corresponding to 3 dimensions. Their update is variable and depends on the availability of new data:
- Schooling and educational environment:
- schooling and population;
- schooling rates in the notional ages of non-compulsory levels;
- foreign students;
- vocational training;
- participation in lifelong learning;
- foreign language learning;
- students with academic support specific needs;
- students per group and teacher;
- teaching staff of the education system;
- information and communication technologies in education and training.
- Educational funding:
- total expenditure on education;
- expenditure on education per student.
- Educational outcomes:
- key skills at the age of 15
- students' age suitability;
- early drop-out in education and training;
- graduation rates;
- level of training of adult population;
- activity and unemployment rates according to level of training;
- income according to level of training.
Several autonomous communities draw up reports in which they analyse and detail the State System of Education Indicators in their territorial context. This is the case, for example, in Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Navarre or the Basque Country.
Some have also developed their own indicators regarding the context, resources, processes and results of the education system. To do so, they use statistics and other information from different sources, such as the educational administration itself, the National Statistics Institute, the autonomous statistical institutes, Eurostat, international studies or diagnostic evaluations.
External evaluations in Primary Education and Compulsory Secondary Education
There are two types of external evaluations established:
- general assessment of the education system (at the end of the stage);
- diagnostic assessments
General evaluations of the education system
The National Institute for Educational Assessment, in collaboration with the Education Administrations, within the framework of the general evaluation of the education system, will carry out the evaluations that make it possible to obtain representative data, both of the student body and of the institutions in the Autonomous Communities and at State level. Additionally these evaluations will focus on the competences established in the curriculum and they will be carried out in Primary and Secondary education.
These assessments will take into account pupils with special educational needs arising from disability, including, in the conditions for carrying out such assessments, the adaptations and resources they may have had.
End-of-stage assessments shall be carried out both at the end of primary education, in 6th grade, and at the end of secondary education, in 4th year of ESO. They will be informative, instructional and orientative in nature for schools, teachers, pupils and their families and for the education community as a whole.
They will consist of an assessment of the competences acquired by the students and will be conducted on a sample population and on a multi-annual basis.
Schools shall carry out an annual assessment of all pupils in the 4th year of primary education and in the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education, as provided for by the education authorities. The purpose of this assessment is to provide a diagnosis and to check, at least, the mastery degree of linguistic communication and mathematical competence. These assessments wil be informative, instructional and orientative in nature for schools, teachers, pupils and their families or and for the education community as a whole. Schools will take the results of these assessments into account in the design of their improvement plans.
It is the responsibility of the education administrations to develop and control the diagnostic assessments in which their schools participate and to provide the relevant models and support so that all schools can adequately carry out these assessments, which will be formative and internal in nature.
In no case may the results of these evaluations be used for establishing school rankings.
Participation in international evaluation studies
Spain participates in several international evaluation surveys, which include:
- INES (International Indicators of Education Systems), of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in which Spain participates since it was established in 1992.
- PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), of the OCDE. Spain has participated in all the cycles of the PISA Project and has drawn up national reports based on the Spanish results in this assessment programme. Its latest edition has been conducted in 2022. In turn, PISA 2025 will focus mainly on science, as well as assessing mathematics and reading skills, and will include an international foreign language assessment (in this first cycle it will be English).
- TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Under a common theoretical framework, progress in Mathematics and Science in the 4th year of primary education and in the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education is evaluated since1995. Spain participated in that edition and has done so again in the 4th year of primary education in 2011, 2015 and 2019. The next edition will take place in 2023.
- PISA for Schools of the OCDE. It is an external evaluation aimed at improvement. It is a student assessment tool intended to be used by schools and school clusters to support research, benchmarking and improvement efforts. It also provides information on how different factors, both internal and external to schools, are related to school performance. Spain took part in the pilot test in 2013. Participants include schools and groups of schools from all the autonomous communities, and to the management scope of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
- PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), of the IEA. Spain has participated in the 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021 assessments conducted in the 4th year of primary education.
- TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey), of the OECD. It analyses the learning environment and working conditions of teachers and school heads in the first three years of ESO (2008 and 2013) and in ESO and primary education (2018). In addition, the 2024 edition will also include the second cycle of early childhood education.
- ICCS (International Civic and Citizenship Study) of the IEA. This study investigates the ways in which young people are prepared to play their role as members of citizenship in society. Spain participated in this study in its first edition in 2009, did not participate in 2016 and participated again in the 2022 edition.
- SSES (Social and Emotional Skills Survey), by the OECD. This international study, promoted by the OECD, analyses the social and emotional skills developed by students aged 10 and 15. Although it was carried out for the first time internationally in 2018, Spain began to participate in 2023 and only with 15-year-old students.
- ICILS (International Digital Literacy Study), of the IEA. It is an international study promoted to assess the digital competence of students in the 2nd year of ESO. Although it was carried out for the first time in 2013, with a periodicity of 5 years, Spain has begun to participate in the 2023 edition, which corresponds to the third cycle of the study. This edition includes an optional module to assess computational thinking and programming.
With regard to international studies, most Autonomous Communities have extended the PISA sample in order to obtain representative data for their territory. They also participate in other international evaluation studies where they also boraden the sample.
The National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEE) coordinates the participation of the Spanish State in international evaluations with the corresponding international organisations.
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.
External evaluation of educational institutions
Each Autonomous Community is responsible for the design and implementation of the mechanisms for the external evaluation of the schools within its territory and, in addition, can establish its own self-evaluation or internal evaluation model. Because of their complementarity, they are jointly regulated in several regions. This is the case of, for example, Extremadura.
In addition, some of them draw up external evaluation plans including other mechanisms. Although they differ between the education authorities, their most characteristic features are the following:
- Their frequency varies, but often coincides with the period covered by the school management.
- The responsible body, which is normally the Inspectorate, in some cases in collaboration with the bodies for evaluation and educational quality of the Autonomous Communities, defines the areas to be evaluated and normally establishes indicators.
- Contextual aspects, resources, processes and educational outcomes are evaluated. In some cases, other aspects, such as equity conditions, are assessed.
- The procedures used normally include the analysis of school documents, interviews and questionnaires from different sectors of the educational community, as well as the direct observation of teaching and learning situations.
- The results of the evaluation are included in a report which is made available to the education administration and the school for them to introduce improvement measures.
Spain's recent participation in PISA for Schools provides an additional method.
Internal evaluation of educational institutions
Several Autonomous Communities, normally through their bodies for evaluation and educational quality, have developed guidelines and orientations to support self-evaluation or internal school evaluation. They address different aspects such as evaluation areas, indicators, procedures, or instruments or advice for the drawing up of an improvement plan. An example is Castilla La Mancha.
This type of evaluation is normally annual although, in some cases, it is specified that it is continuous and its results are included in external assessments, depending on the stipulated time frame for the latter. In general, the school management is responsible for the coordination of the internal evaluation process and the Inspectorate undertakes advisory or supervisory tasks.
In addition, some Autonomous Communities, Comunitat Valenciana, being one of them, have established quality programmes or procedures for the implementation of quality management systems, which are voluntary for schools.
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.