External assessment of VET in Estonia

External quality assurance of VET in Estonia is regulated by the Vocational Educational Institutions Act. The quality assurance activities delegated to EKKA have been laid down in the EKKA Conceptual Framework Document for QA in VET.

The objective of the quality assessment of vocational education is to foster the development of learning-oriented school culture and to increase the reliability of vocational education.

Quality assessment of vocational education provides an opportunity:

  • For the school to get feedback about the quality of the study process and recommendations to develop it and to use the results of an independent external evaluation for the school’s strategic management.
  • To inform interested groups (learners, labour market, state, the society in general) about how well vocational education meets the national demands, objectives of development plans, labour market needs and expectations of the learners.

EKKA is in charge of two types of assessment in VET:

  1. Initial assessment and re-assessment of study programme groups (Granting the right to provide instruction in a new group of programmes)
  2. Quality assessment of study programme groups.

 

1. The procedure for granting the right to provide instruction in a new group of programmes

  • The school submits an application and the materials needed to commence the proceedings to the Ministry of Education and Research.
  • The Ministry of Education and Research establishes whether the materials comply with the requirements set out in the legal acts and commissions an initial assessment of the group of programmes from EKKA on the basis of the regulation laid down by the vocational education assessment council. The vocational education assessment council makes one of the following proposals to the Minister for Education and Research based on the assessment report:
    a) to grant the school the right to provide instruction without a term;
    b) to grant the right to provide instruction for three years;
    c) not to grant the right to provide instruction.
  • If the group of programmes receives the right to provide instruction without a term, it will undergo regular quality assessments in the future, taking place at least once every six years. The result of the quality assessment is not linked to the right to provide instruction. Unlinking quality assessment from the right to provide instruction means that the assessment focuses more on the school’s development. A shorter term of assessment does not necessarily indicate non-compliance with national regulations but rather shows new development needs and opportunities.
  • If a school receives the initial right to provide instruction for three years, a re-assessment will be conducted on the basis of the relevant regulation adopted by the vocational education assessment council. The vocational education assessment council makes one of the following proposals to the Minister for Research and Education based on the assessment report of the assessment committee:
    a) to grant the school the right to provide instruction without a term;
    b) to grant the right to provide instruction for three years;
    c) not to grant the right to provide instruction.
    The Minister for Education and Research is entitled to revoke the right to provide instruction if EKKA vocational education assessment council makes a recommendation for the third time to grant the right to provide instruction in that group of programmes for three years.

2. Quality assessment of study programme groups.

  • If a group of programmes has been granted the right to provide instruction without a term, a regular quality assessment will take place at least once in every six years, targeted at fostering the development of learning-oriented school culture and improving the reliability of vocational education.
  • Quality assessment of vocational education is conducted according to a timeline adopted by EKKA and accepted by educational institutions and the Ministry of Education and Research. The assessment decisions are taken by the vocational education assessment council of EKKA. The results of the quality assessment are used by the schools’ management and by the Ministry of Education and Research for policy making. Quality assessment of vocational education provides an opportunity:
    – for the school to get feedback about the quality of the teaching and education process and recommendations for its development; the results of an independent external evaluation can also be used for the school’s strategic management.
    – To inform interested groups (learners, labour market, state, the society in general) about how well vocational education meets the national demands, objectives of development plans, labour market needs and expectations of the learners.