Assessing learners’ competences: policies and practices to support successful and inclusive education

Ecorys colleagues, Gillian Kelly and Laurie Day, in cooperation with Janet Looney, director of European Institution of Education and Social Policy (EIESP), have been providing support to the European Commission in the organisation, facilitation and reporting of the European Education Area Working Group on Schools- Pathways to School Success Strand.

The Working Group has been exploring how policymakers can support effective and inclusive whole-school approaches to integrating formative and summative assessments (sometimes described, respectively, as “assessment for learning” and “assessment of learning”) of learners’ key competences into teaching and learning. This was discussed over a number of Working Group meetings, an online seminar and a peer-learning activity from January-June 2023.

The Thematic Report is the key outcome of the discussions and provides key guidance for policymakers on how to improve and make classroom-based assessment more inclusive and better integrated. The report was compiled and edited by Janet Looney (EIESP), Gillian Kelly (Ecorys), in collaboration with the European Commission and Working Group Members.

The Thematic Report’s key messages are highlighted below:

Ensure a balanced and coherent approach to assessing student competences

For example, by developing a clear and shared vision on education, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, ensuring consistency between curriculum, learning standards and assessment, and fully embedding the principles of inclusion, equity and participation in the design and implementation of effective assessment of competences.

Ensure that student assessment approaches are ‘fit for purpose’

By supporting teachers to use a combination of assessment approaches, starting with initial teacher education and through opportunities for continuous professional development, networking and learning communities, and by promoting and disseminating high-quality research and proven good practices of classroom-based assessments.

Develop a long-term strategy to integrate new approaches to assessment across systems

For example, by piloting and refining new assessment approaches in selected schools prior to introducing system-wide change, supporting school leaders, and ensuring that teacher certification examinations, professional standards, teacher appraisal and school evaluations require to demonstrate competences related to classroom-based summative and formative assessment.

Access the Executive Summary here.