The changing curriculum and examination system in education has been an issue for decades in Turkey.
E-school, the current school management system that is provided by the Turkish government, holds records of every pupil, such as exam results, teacher assessments, attendance and such, from nursery until the end of high school, across all subjects. E-school is a powerful piece of software as it has live data and all schools are using the same software. Many schools in developed countries purchase or subscribe to private software to manage their data as they are lacking a government-supplied national system.
But how can the collected data be used to raise standards in the Turkish education system?
The aim of measuring and evaluating, as well as teaching and learning, is predominantly to identify the needs of pupils and their schools, in order to provide an inclusive education and achieve the highest potential possible, regardless of the student's background.
The Ministry of Education has access to a wealth of data. In order to truly understand what is missing, exam results should be analysed to identify pupils, pupil groups and schools that are significantly different to the national averages.
In developed countries, teaching and learning is measured by attainment and progress.
"Attainment," which is the pupils' examination results and "progress," which utilizes crucial information to measure how pupils have performed from one exam to another.
Success is currently only being measured by attainment within the e-school system, but is only available to the Ministry of Education and not shared with the schools. On the other hand, progress is not measured in the Turkish education system at all.
In order to raise standards, progress should be calculated through robust judgement of students and schools. Statistical significance tests should be applied to identify pupils outside of the 95 percent confidence intervals.
Progress is measured differently across the globe. In developed countries, in the last 15 years, multilevel modelling, linear and non-linear multiple regression methods have been used to predict each pupils' next exam results, which is often viewed as being meaningless as predictions cannot be 100 percent accurate. Over for the last five years, a new and robust measure of progress has been applied in education.
As our new Minister of Education, professor Dr. Ziya Selçuk said during "The Effect of Evaluation Systems on Education in Turkey and the World Symposium" in February 2018, "measurement and evaluations in Turkish education should take precautions otherwise this will harm education instead of improvement."
Success does not mean achieving the highest score in the exam, it is important to identify what pupils are not learning. Every pupil has a different level of understanding. Every child is unique and personalized education plans should be applied to drive improvement. A new performance measurement and evaluation system will give access to teachers to support them in identifying pupils in need and track their progress. No objective judgement can be made without qualitative and quantitative performance analysis.
From this, the School Evaluation Report should be provided by the Ministry of Education, containing the schools' strengths and weaknesses in terms of progress and attainment across all subjects. This report would be a starting point for a new school inspection framework to support teachers, schools, inspectors and the Ministry of Education to raise standards without being used to penalize schools and teachers. Schools that are significantly below the national average should be the priority for inspections. There are many factors to consider when improving the education system such as curriculum design and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training. School evaluations will give an opportunity to identify the areas, subjects and statements that require support for each pupil. Not only will this help to evolve the education system but will support in diminishing the gaps of knowledge within pupils.
The Ministry of Education could more effectively use the e-school software to measure progress, provide a school evaluation report and assure a new and fairer inspection framework to support all stakeholders in education to raise educational standards.
*Aykut Sadi is the CEO of ASSET (Advanced Statistical System Evaluation Tool for Raising Educational Standard)
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