School System Evaluation: A Problem of Governance
Even though the introduction of an evaluation system constitutes an essential condition in order to foster the improvement of the school system, it does not appear a sufficient factor. It needs to go into a culture oriented to government outcome, otherwise it becomes a simple collection of data that, though complete, does not produce a real impact on system improvement. Evaluation makes sense if it constitutes a step structurally integrated inside a strategic approach to the government and to the management of public services, and in particular of educational services. In other developed countries, the need of a strong interaction between evaluation and governance is much more clearly felt. In the United Kingdom, great efforts have been spent in order to integrate the outcomes culture in all the critical passages of school system management. In Italy, the National Service for school system evaluation has still to take off. Beyond the controversies on the reliability of the tests, hypotheses about the development of school internal and/or external evaluation haven't been yet formulated, and all is left to the spontaneous organization of the schools and to the traditional inspection visits. There is a lack of an organized collection of data about the performance of the schools, the drop-outs, the costs, the management and teaching processes; above all, there is a lack of a permanent apparatus of indicators, that can allow decision makers to monitor the development of the system, as it happens in many other countries.
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