The educational system in Flanders has no tradition of central testing of students. In May 2024, this will change with the introduction of the ‘Flemish tests’. These central assessments will be compulsory for all students in Grades 4, 6, 8 and 12. One student cohort in Flanders comprises about 70.000 students.
Type of tests
These are digital tests in mathematics and Dutch (reading comprehension and writing). The tests are based on the Flemish attainment targets.
The tests are developed by the ‘Flemish research center for central assessment in education’ (in Dutch)(opens in new window), a consortium of researchers from universities and university colleges.
The Flemish tests will be partially adaptive, as to increase reliability and decrease testing time.
Students with special educational needs can use their usual supportive tools (such as read-aloud software) to take the tests.
The tests will be administered every school year. Students will take the tests near the end of the school year. The first tests will take place in May 2024 in Grades 4 and 8. The tests in Grade 6 will start in May 2026. The tests in Grade 12 will start in May 2027.
The main goal of the introduction of the Flemish tests is to monitor and to improve the quality of education in Flanders, given that both international and national studies generally show declining trends for Flanders in student outcomes in literacy and numeracy.
Impact of the test result for students
Teacher teams in Flanders have the autonomy to issue diploma’s and certificates to students based on their own tests and exams. The teacher teams have the freedom to include the test results into the global evaluation of the student in the way they see fit. However, it is forbidden to use the test results in a high-stakes fashion by letting the test result totally determine the evaluation of the student at the end of the school year.
Impact of the test result for schools
Every primary school and every secondary school will get a school feedback report. The report is intended as informative for school policy making. The report will include raw school results and contextualised estimates. Data-informed decision making in schools can lead to better policies.
The school results are not communicated to parents or to the general public in any form. There will be no school report cards or school rankings in Flanders. Parents cannot access the information of the Flemish tests in choosing a school. The rationale behind this decision is that the tests should be supportive for schools and not a means for school accountability. Since the tests are low-stakes for schools, the schools will not engage in strategic behaviour to artificially increase their scores.
The school results will be communicated to the inspectorate of education.(opens in new window)
The inspectors will use the test results in combination with other information on the school (such as student intake characteristics, teacher team, prior audits, etc.) to create a school profile.
This school profile can affect the frequency and intensity of the school audit by the inspectorate.
During the school audit, inspectors visit the school to observe lessons and they have conversations with the teachers and the leadership team.