The effective monitoring and evaluation of schools is central to the continuous improvement of student learning. Schools need feedback on their performance to help them identify how to improve their practices, and to allow them to be held accountable for their performance (OECD, 2013c).
In Latvia the State Education Quality Service (SEQS) is responsible for both the legal accreditation and external evaluation of schools (every six years) and their programmes (every two or six years). The accreditation decision is based on an expert commission typically composed of three representatives of the sector (i.e. national government, municipalities and other schools). The expert commission considers multiple sources of evidence such as the school’s self-evaluation report, classroom observations, documentation, and surveys against 19 quality criteria that are grouped in the following 7 key areas:
- 1. curriculum
- 2. teaching and learning
- 3. attainment
- 4. support for students
- 5. ethos
- 6. resources
- 7. management, leadership and quality assurance
Among the 19 quality criteria, 16 are evaluated according to 4 evaluation levels: Level 1 - unsatisfactory, Level 2 - satisfactory, Level 3 - good, and Level 4 - very good. Only a descriptive assessment is provided for the other three quality criteria.
The budget cuts of 2009/10 resulted in a one-off evaluation based on schools’ self-evaluation report and student outcomes alone. About 80% of eligible institutions were evaluated based on these self-assessment reports, while the remaining 20% received a visit from an expert commission. Only a small proportion of schools and programmes (4% in 2013) were not accredited (SEQS, 2014).
From 2015 onwards, schools will be expected to undertake a self-evaluation every year resulting in an annual internal evaluation report that is to inform about the school’s development. The internal school evaluation results are expected to be made public by the school. The SEQS publishes partial external school evaluation reports on its website, including the names of the experts, the evaluation grading, strengths and recommendations. Evaluation findings may also be consulted on request by parents, students and other stakeholders. In addition, the SEQS aggregates the results of its external evaluations in an annual report that is made publicly available.