‘Introduce standardised testing,’ suggest education scientists

Summary

Pupils in Flemish schools should take standardised tests at the end of primary school and periodically during secondary school, according to education scientists in Antwerp

Objective testing

Students should take standardised tests throughout their education to assess where they are in basic courses, Antwerp University (UAntwerp) experts have told De Standaard. Several neighbouring countries measure the level of students and schools with such tests, they said.

The educational scientists suggested that all students across the region take exactly the same tests, both at the end of primary education and after every grade (two years) of secondary education. They should cover only basic subjects, however, like Dutch and mathematics, they suggested. The tests would have to reflect the grasp of the subject the students should have at that time.

Flanders’ education networks currently organise different kinds of tests at the end of primary school, but there is no standardised tool. The lack of standardised tests is linked to the Belgian constitution, which stipulates that education networks and schools are free to organise their own systems of education.

The government only requires that schools respect the eindtermen – the final requirements for pupils to graduate. UAntwerp points out that the evaluation of students lies nearly entirely in the hands of teachers.

“Complementing the evaluation with an objective test would offer many advantages,” said education science professor Jan Vanhoof. Individual prejudices or preferences are, for example, ruled out in standardised tests, he said.

Education minister Hilde Crevits said that she would examine the possibility of introducing standardised testing.

Photo courtesy KTA 2 Hasselt

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma