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Document 31998Y0103(02)

Council Conclusions of 16 December 1997 on the evaluation of quality in school education

OJ C 1, 3.1.1998, p. 4–5 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

In force


Council Conclusions of 16 December 1997 on the evaluation of quality in school education

Official Journal C 001 , 03/01/1998 P. 0004 - 0005

COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS of 16 December 1997 on the evaluation of quality in school education (98/C 1/03)


Having regard to Article 126 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

(1) Whereas the Socrates programme, Action III.3.1 of which, in particular, invites the Commission to promote the exchange of information and experience on questions of common interest;

(2) Whereas evaluating quality in school education is one of the priority themes of the said Action;

(3) Whereas the Commission has, since March 1996, launched various studies and operational activities to examine the question of evaluation from different perspectives with the aim of creating a picture of the wide variety and wealth of approaches and evaluation methodologies used at different levels;

(4) Whereas, during the 1997/98 academic year, the Commission will conduct a pilot project directly involving approximately one hundred schools in States participating in the Socrates programme; whereas an Advisory Working Party bringing together Member States' appointed experts on evaluation in the States taking part in the programme will assist the Commission in implementing the said project;

(5) Whereas senior education officials met twice in 1995 tot discuss the quality of education in schools; whereas both meetings considered the question of evaluation from complementary perspectives, thus stressing the richness and diversity of the approaches adopted in the Member States;

(6) Whereas the meeting convened by the French Presidency in June 1995 considered the evaluation of pupil achievement and whereas the meeting convened by the Spanish Presidency in November 1995 looked at external evaluation and self-appraisal in schools, with particular emphasis on the integration of schools into their environment as a criterion of quality;

(7) Whereas evaluation is also an important element for assuring and, where appropriate, improving quality;

(8) Whereas the test of the quality of an education system is its schools and whereas it is measured by the progress schools enable young people to make;

(9) Whereas developments in contemporary society necessitate more than ever a major effort on the part of the State in favour of education; whereas the effectiveness of this effort should be evaluated;

(10) Whereas it is therefore important to report on the quality achieved as a result, also, of the resources invested in education;

(11) Whereas, in addition to the activities launched by the Union, the OECD's work on quality, in particular through the activities of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and its International Indicators of Educational Systems (INES) programme as well as the international studies of pupil achievement by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), should also be taken into account,


I. General considerations

Self-appraisal as a tool for schools' development and improvement of quality is based on the idea that a vast range of interconnected factors determine the quality of a school. Although the choice of evaluation criteria depends on the legal, political and budgetary framework, which comes within the exclusive competence of the Member States, the professionalism of teachers, the content of the pupils' learning process, relations within the school, the integration of the school into its local environment, the way in which a school is run and the characteristics of a school as an environment are, to no less a degree, all factors determining the quality of a school.

A school's focus is its pupils and its aim to impart the values, knowledge and skills which they will use during their subsequent education and during their lives as European citizens. Evaluating the extent to which this has been achieved is a major element in determining a school's quality and the quality of the education it provides.

As each school - in cooperation with the country's relevant authorities - is responsible for the quality of its education, it should also be possible to provide it with tools and procedures that give it a better grasp of the conditions that help its pupils to succeed at school.

These tools should make it possible for a school, according to its needs, or, where appropriate, under existing school programmes, to record the progress which it enables a young person to make as a person, as a pupil and as a citizen of tomorrow.

II. In conclusion, the Council invites:

A. Member States,

in the framework and within the limits of their political, legal, budgetary, education and training systems, to step up their action by increasing their cooperation in the evaluation of quality in school education - in particular in the evaluation of pupil achievement - with a view to achieving the following objectives:

- promoting the networking of those involved in the evaluation process at different levels,

- analysing and disseminating the results of international comparative studies on evaluating pupil achievement,

- promoting the development of evaluation tools so that pupils' learning and achievements may be better analysed by schools,

- disseminating examples of good practice,

- evaluating the benefits schools and teachers gain from taking part in the forms of cooperation on offer;

B. the Commission,

in the framework of existing Community education and training programmes and other relevant Community programmes and initiatives and by taking advantage of the experience gained in connection with existing projects and networks supported under these programmes, to:

- strengthen European cooperation and the exchange of information and good practice in evaluating quality in school education,

- put to good use and exploit at European level national experience and the results of the studies undertaken at European and international level,

- make the best possible use of the results of the pilot project and ensure, in cooperation with the Member States, that they are disseminated and, where appropriate, followed up,

- promote cooperation between Member States with a view to ensuring the emergence of better European expertise in evaluating the quality of school education, and in particular of pupil achievement,

- encourage, in connection with existing Community programmes (notably Socrates), the process of making teachers more aware of and, where appropriate, preparing them for, the development and use of evaluation tools and methods,

- take account of the importance of the subject of evaluating the quality of school education when considering future cooperation in the field of education.