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Qualitative assessment of school education

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Qualitative assessment of school education

The aim of this Recommendation is to increase cooperation at European level in the field of quality assessment of school education while maintaining plurality.


Recommendation 2001/166/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 February 2001 on European cooperation with regard to the qualitative assessment of school education [Official Journal L 60 of 01.03.2001].


This recommendation proposes to continue the previous measures in school education by cooperating closely with the authorities responsible for the quality of education and by promoting networking at European level.

Although the quality of a system cannot be defined in absolute terms, it is still possible to set objectives and analyse the ways to achieve them.

The objectives still involve tackling early school-leaving and combating social exclusion in general, and the Recommendation distinguishes between two forms of qualitative assessment: external assessment and self-assessment. The Recommendation encourages all those involved in the school system (teachers, pupils, parents and specialists) to take part in the processes of self-assessment and external assessment. It states that the aim of external assessment is to provide both methodological support for school self-evaluation and an objective view of the school.

One of the most important features of the European education system is its diversity. As a result, it is not possible to devise standard assessment methods that could be applied to all Member States. Any qualitative assessment at European level must take into consideration the socio-cultural, historical and political factors specific to each Member State.

The Recommendation highlights the fact that exchange of information constitutes the bulk of the Community added value. Information exchange should be focused in particular on methodological developments and examples of good practice, especially through the use of new technologies, by organising conferences, seminars and data collection, and by developing tools and publishing results.

The European Parliament and the Council call on the Commission to:

  • create an Internet database for the dissemination of tools, examples of good practice, and effective tools for assessing the quality of educational establishments;
  • make an inventory of the instruments and strategies for quality assessment in primary and secondary education already in use in the various Member States;
  • incorporate the results obtained into existing programmes and develop the existing networks;
  • report every three years to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions;
  • make proposals on the basis of this report.


Several measures have been taken in order to increase European cooperation in the field of quality assessment of school education. The Council of Education Ministers of 6 May 1996 stressed the need to set up a pilot programme on the quality assessment of school education.

The Employment Guidelines for 1999, 2000, 2003-2005 and 2005-2008 and the Council Recommendation of 14 October 2004 also encouraged Member States to improve the quality of their school systems, reduce early school-leaving and do everything in their power to seize the opportunities offered by new technologies.


European Report on the Quality of School Education : Sixteen Quality Indicators. Report of May 2000 based on the work of the Working Committee on Quality Indicators [Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Recommendation (EC) No 561/98 of 24 September 1998 on European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education [Official Journal L 270 of 07.10.1998].

Council Recommendation (EC) No 741/04 of 14 October 2004 on the implementation of Member States' employment policies [Official Journal L 326 of 29.10.2004]

Last updated: 02.11.2005