School Inspections


Draagt onderwijstoezicht bij aan schoolverbetering? Effecten van onderwijstoezicht in het primair onderwijs (2007). Frans J.G.Janssens & Inge de Wolf (Universiteit Twente/Universiteit van Amsterdam)


In dit paper wordt geprobeerd een bijdrage te leveren aan de kennis over de werking van het Nederlandse onderwijstoezicht op basis van zowel gegevens van de onderwijsinspectie als de uitkomsten van wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Omdat er naar het effect van toezicht op scholen voor primair onderwijs het meeste onderzoek is gedaan, beperken we  ons in dit verband tot deze sector. De periode waarover wordt gerapporteerd betreft vooral de jaren 1998 tot en met 2006. In deze periode heeft de onderwijsinspectie vanaf 2002 het toezicht uitgeoefend op basis van de Wet op het Onderwijstoezicht (WOT) die in 2007 wordt geëvalueerd. Daarom is het een voor de hand liggend moment om de effecten van het onderwijstoezicht te evalueren.

De beantwoording van de vraag of onderwijstoezicht effectief is als volgt aangepakt. Om de effecten van toezicht te kunnen verklaren is allereerst een theoretisch model ontwikkeld. Dit model wordt in paragraaf 2 gepresenteerd en is gericht op de relatie tussen onderwijstoezicht en de kwaliteitsverbetering van scholen. Effecten van het toezicht op het onderwijsbeleid zijn buiten beschouwing gelaten. Op basis van dit model is in paragraaf 3 een aantal onderzoeksvragen geformuleerd en is gezocht naar empirische gegevens om deze te kunnen beantwoorden. Paragraaf 4 bevat de resultaten en gaat achtereenvolgens in op de vraag in welke mate PO-scholen effecten van het toezicht ervaren en of dit resulteert in kwaliteitsverbetering. Tot slot wordt in paragraaf 5 de vraagstelling beantwoord en van commentaar voorzien.
Deze Keynote ten behoeve van het thema Beleid & Organisatie, door de eerste auteur gepresenteerd op de ORD 2007 te Groningen, vindt u hier.
The effect of school inspections: a systematic review (2012).  Mariëlle C.J.L. Klerks (Inspectorate for Youth Care, the Netherlands)


This article is based on a systematic review. It aims at obtaining evidence based insight into the effect of school inspections on the educational quality of schools. Fourteen articles which discuss various types of research, were identified as relevant. A meaningful distinction concerns the so-called outcome measures against which the effect of school inspections are measured:
• school improvement;
• behavioural change of teachers; or
• student achievement results.
Overlooking the overall results of the systematic review, no evidence has been found that school inspections automatically lead to the improvement of the educational quality. Also it cannot be concluded that characteristics of school inspections themselves lead to the improvement of educational quality. Instead, research shows that in practice there is a complex interaction between different characteristics of school inspections and the inspector on the one hand, and the school with its pupils, teachers and management on the other hand.
You can find the paper presented at the ORD, Wageningen, The Netherlands June 20, 21 and 22, 2012 here.

Review and synthesis of evidence on the (mechanisms of) impact of school inspections (2014. )R. Nelson & M. Ehren (Institute of Education, University of London)


The purpose of this review was to identify and summarize findings from international empirical research on the impact of inspections.
Applying the conceptual model provided by Ehren et al. (2013), the extent to which inspections are effective may be sought in four categories. Three of these four categories are also those used by Klerks (2013) in an earlier review of empirical evidence on the impact of inspections:
• School improvement
• Improvement/introduction of school self-evaluation
• Behavioural change of teachers (and school leaders) to improve effective school and teaching conditions
• Student achievement results

There is a high degree of overlap in relation to these categories in the way in which research studies report results. Evidence from the reviewed research suggests that inspection may have an impact on any or all of the above, but that this is not necessarily the case. Where accountability systems that include inspection have been in place for a lengthy period, annual reports and evaluations from, or on behalf of, inspectorates show that schools are improving overall. Interventions in place in these systems ensure that those schools which perform very poorly will either improve, with the extensive support provided, or be closed down. However, although they do not sink into the category where they are judged to be failing to provide an adequate quality of education, some schools in these jurisdictions remain ‘stuck’ or ‘coasting’, with evidence that such schools tend to serve areas of disadvantage. Research on the factors which link inspection to impact is complicated both by the position of inspection within an accountability framework which may include national testing and school self- evaluation and by numerous other variables. As well as positive effects, research shows that inspection, as part of a high stakes external accountability system, may have unintended negative consequences.

This review of research presents evidence from international studies which examine inspection on school improvement, school self evaluation, behavioural change and student achievement. It includes evidence reviewed in earlier summaries of published research (OECD, 2013; Klerks, 2013; Whitby, 2010; de Wolf and Janssens, 2007) although, of these, only Klerks provides a full methodology for systematic review. However, all of these reviews demonstrate a high degree of consistency in their conclusions. All earlier reviewers noted that little empirical research has been conducted on the impact of inspection, particularly outside the UK, and this was also the case for this review, with little additional material identified in English. The largest number of studies on the impact of inspection and related factors is from England. Factors identified in the literature, which lead to inspection having more or less impact, are then listed and relevant empirical literature for some of these factors presented.

You can find the review, commissioned by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education,  here.

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