Pupils to sit standardised exams for first time


From 2023, the new centralised testing will take place four times during a pupil’s school career. The aim is for authorities to more accurately map learning outcomes and make targeted improvements

‘Small revolution’

Flanders’ schools are to establish centralised testing for pupils for the first time. There are currently no standardised measurements of pupil attainment across the region.

Every child will be tested four times during their education: at the end of the fourth and sixth year of primary school and the second and sixth year of secondary school. The first tests will be introduced in 2023. An independent support centre will be set up to develop the tests and provide quality control.

“With central testing, the world of education can look at itself in the mirror,” said Ben Weyts, Flanders’ minister for education. “For the first time, we will be able to objectively map all pupils’ achievements. It will allow us to improve the quality of our education in a targeted way.”

Finger on the pulse

Centralised testing is used around the world, but not yet in Flanders. That means the region depends on fragmented tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) to see how its own education system is evolving and monitor pupils’ performances. One recent consequence is that authorities have been unable to easily monitor where children have fallen behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government of Flanders is now investing €13.5 million in centralised testing, to be developed and monitored by an independent panel. Education providers will be involved in developing the tests, to ensure the outcomes are supported by those working in the field. The first tests will take place in 2023 in secondary education, with primary schools the following year.

We must do this if we want to protect the quality of our education and keep setting the bar high for our pupils

- Ben Weyts

“This is a small revolution in Flemish education,” said Weyts. “Thanks to centralised testing, we can keep our finger on the pulse across Flanders. We will be able to measure to what extent children are attaining their learning goals and to what extent pupils and schools are succeeding in making learning gains. We must do this if we want to protect the quality of our education and keep setting the bar high for our pupils.”

Weyts is now launching an appeal for a support centre that will develop the tests, support schools in implementing them and analyse the results at pupil, class, school and system level.

Photo: Getty Images/skynesher