Quality assurance is based on a principle of decentralization where the self-evaluation of education providers and the external evaluations by national expert bodies build the basis.
The aim of the evaluations is to develop education and to support learning while ensuring the quality of education. The evaluations also produce information for local, regional and national decision-making on education as well as development work and international comparison.
Indicators and evaluation projects such as reviews of education or thematic reviews. Evaluation findings are used in the development of the education system and the core curricula and instruction.
Pre-primary and basic education are evaluated by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre FINEEC. FINEEC conducts national assessments of learning as well as various thematic and system-level evaluations. The aim is to:
- Produce knowledge for development and decision-making
- Ensure educational equity and the quality of instruction
- Function as tools for steering and development in schools
Approaches and methods for quality assurance
Both education providers and schools are required to have a plan for evaluation and development. The providers have the autonomy to decide on the objectives by themselves.
There are no national directives regarding the methods of internal evaluation. Education providers may use their own procedures or commission external evaluations External evaluations are not very frequently used in general education. They are slightly more common in vocational education.
National-level assessment of learning outcomes are sample-based assessments of learning outcomes and are carried out by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre FINEEC. Education providers can choose to join the assessment even if they are not in the sample by financing their participation themselves. In general education, most common methods are:
- Different types of surveys
- Assessments of learning outcomes (often combined with external evaluations and student assessments)
- Work, action and financial plans of the schools, financial statements and annual reports
Both in general and vocational education the main topics for the evaluation are the teaching arrangements, human resources, and the culture of leadership. Effectiveness is mainly focused on assessing learning results. Specific economic considerations are the extent of educational resources, how they are focused and effectively used.
The results of the evaluations are reported back to the administrative and teaching staffs of the schools and the local bodies in charge of education. The schools get their own results and comparative information on the national average.