In the 2009 law that restructured the Luxembourg Ministry of Education’s Service de Coordination de la Recherche et de l’Innovation pédagogiques et technologiques (SCRIPT), the assurance of school quality became explicitly a core mission of the aforementioned department. According to the same law, this mission is to be accomplished—among other measures—through the regular organization of an external system evaluation. Thus, since 2009 schools have been legally bound to participate in these external evaluations in order to facilitate this endeavour.
In the first years of the Épreuves Standardisées (ÉpStan), Luxembourg’s national school monitoring programme, the SCRIPT commissioned the University of Luxembourg to implement an external system evaluation on a provisional project basis. In July 2014, however, this mission became structural resulting from the official governmental mandate to monitor the national educational system and build up a longitudinal database of students’ academic competencies—through the Ministry of Higher Education and Research—to the Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing (LUCET), a research and transfer centre explicitly founded for this purpose at the University of Luxembourg.
When fully implemented, the ÉpStan will assess students’ academic competencies, learning motivation and attitudes towards school at the beginning of each learning cycle of students’ compulsory education (i.e., at the beginning of cycle 2.1, cycle 3.1, cycle 4.1, VIIe/7e and Ve/9e; or in other words, at the beginning of grade levels 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9). Each year, the entire student population in each of these grade levels participates in the ÉpStan. While the assessments for all elementary schools are currently paper-based, for secondary schools the ÉpStan are completely computer‐ and web‐based (on LUCET’s in-house Online Assessment System; OASYS). Since 2009, the ÉpStan have been implemented in grade levels 3 and 9. Since 2014, the ÉpStan were successfully extended to grade level 1. The two missing grade levels, 5 and 7, will most likely follow in 2017 and 2018, respectively. It is currently not excluded that the ÉpStan model may be further extended.
Through the ÉpStan, LUCET is assembling a unique and incredibly rich longitudinal database. By bridging together future panels—entire cohorts—of students, LUCET will investigate and answer important societal and scientific questions to provide timely and policy-relevant information to the primary Luxembourgish stakeholders and the larger educational field in general. With the ÉpStan model, Luxembourg is at the forefront of countries trying to base evolutions in their educational system on a sound and reliable empirical basis. Moreover, with the ÉpStan, LUCET is also among the pioneers in large-scale online assessments.
To learn more about Luxembourg’s national school monitoring programme, please visit the ÉpStan website.