Introduction

Evaluation and accountability are key issues in ensuring quality provision for all (Eurydice, 2004). In Europe, the dominant arrangement for educational accountability is school inspections. Annually an average amount of 68.559.103 euros is spend on inspecting schools in every country in this project. Inspectorates of Education assess the quality of education and hold schools accountable for a broad range of goals related to student achievement, teaching, organization and leadership in schools.

This study evaluates if and how school inspections in eight European countries (the Netherlands, England, Ireland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, province of Styria in Austria, Norway and Switzerland) promote high educational and student achievement in schools.

Our aim is to find evidence of the measures, instruments and working methods of school inspections that promote improvement of schools towards high educational quality and student achievement. The participation of very different types of school inspections in this study provides an opportunity to describe different types of European Inspectorates of Education and to present an overview of good practice.

The project runs for a total of three years (January 2011-December 2013); each year principals in primary education and in secondary education in all the eight participating countries are asked to participate in an online survey. The survey includes questions on educational quality and change capacity in schools, changes made in the quality and change capacity of the school, inspection activities in the school, the school’s acceptance and use of feedback, the extent to which inspection standards set expectations and promote self-evaluations and choice/voice/exit of stakeholders in response to inspection reports.

The results include three year of data collection in the same schools which allows us to analyse changes in response to school inspections. The results in each country will be analysed using a regression discontinuity design or short interrupted time series with switching replications. The results of all countries will be compared using a meta-analysis.

The project has the following objectives:

  • To develop a typology of European Inspectorates of Education
  • To develop a conceptual framework and instruments for measuring the impact of Inspectorates of Education on educational quality and student achievement in schools in a European context
  • To provide evidence and examples of measures, instruments and working methods of school inspections that promote improvement of schools towards high educational quality and student achievement and prevent unintended consequences.

This project is funded through the Lifelong Learning Programme, sub programme KA1 Policy Cooperation and innovation, action ‘Studies and comparative research’ (Call for proposals: DG EAC/41/09). Project reference number is: 511490-2010-LLP-NL-KA1-KA1SCR.

The cooperation involves the following partners:

  • University of Twente, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, the Netherlands
  • University of Durham, Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, United Kingdom
  • University of Gothenburg, Department of Education, Sweden
  • Dublin City University, School of Education Studies, Ireland
  • Johannes Kepler University, Department of Education and Educational Psychology, Austria
  • Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Education, Czech Republic

The consortium is legally represented by the coordinating partner ‘Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Twente’. Dr. Melanie Ehren is the contact person of the project-consortium.

Contact us:
Dr. Melanie Ehren
m.c.m.ehren@utwente.nl
Skype: melanieehren