Summary of results in the Netherlands

You can download the paper with the detailed results here.

This technical report describes the results of the first year of data collection in the Netherlands, which is part of a comparative EU study in six countries to measure the impact of school inspections on teaching and learning in schools. A survey to teachers and principals in primary and secondary education (HAVO/VWO departments) and to school boards in primary education was used to analyze if schools in more intensive inspection treatments and school who were inspected the previous year, made more changes in the quality and innovation capacity of the school, or experienced more unintended consequences of school inspections. In addition, we analyzed if school boards that had an inspection meeting since 2007, or in the past academic year, changed their governance of schools, compared to school boards that didn’t have an inspection meeting. We also asked principals and teachers about potential intermediate processes that precede our outcome variables: setting of expectations, acceptance and use of feedback, promoting self-evaluations, and actions of stakeholders. These mechanisms are expected to mediate responses of schools to school inspections.

Responses of teachers and principals to school inspections

The low response rates of teachers and principals (particularly in secondary education) warrant for cautious conclusions. Results however indicate that principals and teachers in both primary and secondary education generally report relatively high satisfaction with school inspections and little unintended consequences on the school level. Principals in primary schools that were inspected in the previous year seem to implement more changes in the school’s capacity to improve and in the achievement orientation of the school, compared to non-inspected schools. These changes were however not perceived by teachers; they perceive (a small amount of) more changes in the implementation of self-evaluations. Principals and teachers in primary schools in more intensive inspection arrangements also report of a higher use of inspection standards to set expectations, more actions of stakeholders in response to the inspection report, more actions to improve the school’s self-evaluation and more changes in the school’s capacity to improve.

Teachers in primary education seem to teach more to the inspection rubric (e.g. changing their pupil care and teaching strategies to meet inspection criteria) then to the (Cito)-test, whereas in secondary education this seems to be reversed and teachers indicate to teach more to the test then to the inspection rubric. Teachers in secondary education (in the final examination grade) for example indicate to prepare students for testing in the month before the test, they have students practice old exams, teach students general test-taking skills and explain questions from old exams during regular instruction throughout the year. They make sure tested topics are covered in their lesson plan and use items from previous exams in their classroom assessments.

Teachers in the (high stakes) testing grade 8 in primary education indicate more changes in learning time, clear and structured teaching and higher levels of teaching to the test compared to their colleagues in the (low stakes) grades 3 and 5.

Teachers and principals who are overall satisfied with school inspections generally use inspection standards and feedback to a somewhat larger extent in their daily work and to improve the school’s functioning. Principals and teachers (particularly in primary education) who indicate that inspection standards guide their daily work and who accept inspection feedback also indicate that school inspections promote self-evaluations and improvement actions in the school. Teachers who feel that inspections standards guide the daily work of the school perceive stakeholders to more frequently use the inspection standards and feedback in their actions towards the school. Teachers and principals (in primary education) who indicate that school inspections promote the implementation or improvement of self-evaluations in the school rate higher levels of innovation capacity in the school.

Responses of school boards to school inspections

School boards that had an inspection meeting since 2007 indicate to have made some changes in their governance of quality assurance in their schools and in the amount of data they collect on the functioning of their schools. School boards that had an inspection meeting during the previous academic year score somewhat higher on the extent to which they govern professional development of teachers and principals in their schools. They also perceive to have implemented more changes in their governance of the data use, achievement orientation and professional development of teachers and principals in their schools, and in their data collection of their schools’ functioning. School boards indicate little activities in the governance of curriculum and instruction in their schools; school inspections and meetings with school inspectors haven’t changed their governance of these aspects.

You can download the paper with the detailed results here.