DEQA-VET: Quality development in vocational schools in Saxony

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Quality development in vocational schools in Saxony

What is the background to quality development in Saxony?

Quality assurance and quality development refers to the cycle of quality management in schools in which self-observation, target-setting and measures planning are interrelated. In a learning organization, the quality of the organization's own work should be permanently monitored, safeguarded and improved. Quality monitoring (internal evaluation) and quality management (school programme work) have therefore become key concepts in school development. An institute's work on its own quality should always be oriented to the results (as the yardstick used for evaluation) (orientation to effectiveness).1

The inclusion of all levels of school tasks such as teaching development, staff development and organizational development plays an important role in the development of the school. The description of school quality is established in the description of criteria for Saxony. It lists objectives for the schools and provides contextual orientation to which work in schools and thus work on quality in schools can be aligned. The focus is on areas of work in schools that lie within the scope of the individual schools for action. These are the quality areas "teaching and learning", "school culture", "management and leadership", "cooperation" and "development of professionalism". They depict processes that take place in the school. The "results" area clarifies the outcome of the processes in the school. Fully depicting educational quality is the task of the underlying framework model of school quality (see Ill. 1), which, as a condition-process-impact model, illustrates assumed correlations that play a key role in the establishment of school quality.

What are the steps and components of the Saxon quality cycle?

The quality cycle (see Ill. 2) based on four key steps:

  1.  Agreements on targets between the Saxon Ministry of State for Education and Culture (SMK) and the Saxon Educational Agency (SBA) or the Saxon Educational Institute (SächsisSBI) or between the Saxon Educational Agency and the individual school as well as within the respective organizational unit.
  2. Planning and implementation of measures.
  3. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the measures taken and thus reviewing of target attainment.
  4. Evaluation and assessment of the evaluation results, drawing of conclusions.2

School programme work

The school programme should contain pedagogic, didactic and school organizational principles for fulfilment of the educational and teaching mandate. In order for school programmes to promote development, they must be widely accepted the in school and satisfy structural and content-related requirements. All organizational development steps should be implemented and documented: determining the initial situation, the targets, the measures and the procedure for their review. The timeline and responsible managers should be designated. The quality of the text document and its content should ensure the success of school development. To this end, there must be internal consistency, i.e. a connection between diagnosis and development planning, a higher degree of elaboration and a (didactic and educational) conceptual foundation.

Orientation to effectiveness

Orientation to effectiveness ensures that the learning progress made by the pupils can be systematically observed. A joint culture of evaluation of pupils' learning results is an important condition for quality work. It ensures that quality work in schools is oriented to pupils' learning success.

Internal evaluation

In addition to conceptual design, the vocational schools perform an internal evaluation of their work on an annual basis. In the internal evaluation process, the school performs autonomous studies which deliver findings in regard to the school. Internal evaluation is used to evaluate the efficacy of the measures initiated for quality development. All forms of internal evaluation should be implemented systematically and be related to the school programme or the school's development plans. In addition, measures and tools appropriate to the subject should be chosen. The school determines the focal points of the content.

External evaluation

Internal evaluation is augmented by external evaluation every five years. The course of the external evaluation procedure in vocational schools is divided into the following steps:

  1. Contact discussion with tour of school
  2. Written survey of pupils, parents, teachers and educational partners
  3. Analysis of documents
  4. School visit: Initial school visit discussion, interview with headmaster, classroom observation, talks with teachers, pupils, parents and educational partners, feedback talk
  5. Presentation of the results and handover of the report.

The contents of the external evaluation refer to the six quality areas, teaching and learning, school culture, management and leadership, cooperation, development of professionalism and results. Within the scope of the quality area management and leadership, the school processes for quality assurance and quality development – school programme work, internal evaluation and orientation to effectiveness – are evaluated.

Agreements on targets

Institutional agreements on targets, i.e. the agreement on binding targets between organizational units (e.g. between the Saxon Educational Agency and an individual school) are the core components of the new model for management of school quality. The objective of the new management process via target agreements is to increase the autonomy of schools.

Who supports schools in Saxony?

As a mid-level school inspectorate, the Saxon Educational Agency is responsible for control as well as for advising and supporting schools (see Ill. 3). It is responsible for staff management.

The Saxon Educational Institute actively develops concepts for various educational and school policy areas of focus, and thus supports quality development in schools in Saxony.

The Saxon Ministry of State of Education, Cultural Affairs and Sports is responsible for strategic management in the Saxon educational system.

(Source: Anne-Kerstin Mildner; Saxon Educational Institute)

1 (see brochure: Schulische Qualität im Freistaat Sachsen (School Quality in the Free State of Saxony): criteria description, p.26)
2 (see brochure: Zielvereinbarung im Sächsischen Schulsystem - Handreichung für Schulen und Schulaufsicht im Freistaat Sachsen (Agreement on Targets in the Saxon School System - Hand-out for Schools and the School Inspectorate in the Free State of Saxony, p. 4))

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