Flanders approves plans for central examinations in primary and secondary education
The Flemish government has reached an agreement on the introduction of regional central examinations that will be phased in from 2024 in the fourth and sixth grades of primary education and in the second and sixth grades of secondary education. "For some, this is a revolution, but in the rest of the world it is a given," Flemish Education minister Ben Weyts Friday said after the council of ministers.
These central exams should help to k'eep an eye on the quality of education' in Flanders, said minister Weyts, who has been working on plans to introduce a system of central exams in the region for some time. Flanders has been doing less well in international polls for a while now, and more and more pupils are failing to meet the minimum targets.
"Today, we are heavily dependent on foreign research, but we want to keep our finger on the pulse," says Weyts, who argues that centralised tests are an ideal instrument to monitor educational quality. The new system should also allow schools to "compare themselves with similar schools" and give pupils and parents a picture of the progress of individual pupils.
Specifically, it is planned to start with a kind of test, a calibration for thousands of pupils in 2023, followed by the introduction of the centralised tests in the fourth grade and second year of secondary school in 2024. In the following years, the tests will be administered in the sixth grade and in the sixth year of secondary school.
In order to counteract the phenomenon of "teaching to the test", the aim will be to set tests that require pupils to have insight and reasoning skills, something for which they cannot be prepared by spending hours filling in test exercise books or practising with exercises.
Each school is given access to the test results so that they can compare themselves with similar schools. Class councils can use these results as an additional element in the assessment of pupils, although they should not be used as the sole evaluation.
The results will not be made public, nor will schools be allowed to publish their results themselves, for example to advertise their achievements. And rankings are not allowed.