Value-Added in Education Brought to Schools by E-Test

This June, for the first time in history, the National Institute for Certified Educational Measurements (NÚCEM) will present value-added in education from a compulsory school-leaving subject - Slovak language and literature (SJL). The methodology of its calculation was developed by the research group in the national project "Increasing the quality of primary and secondary education with the use of electronic testing", using a standard method of hierarchical linear modelling. The methodology has been consulted in detail and commented on the national and international scientific forums, and presented in Slovakia as well as abroad (e.g.  Utrecht / The Netherlands, April 2015).
For a modern school, it is very useful to know its value-added, which represents the contribution of the school to its students' education. A school may use the value-added in education, alongside other quality indicators, in planning and improving the educational process within its self-evaluation. "The value-added in education is another element of evaluation of the school work, which can help in detecting weaknesses in specific areas and finding ways to improve themselves. Now we are able to tell the schools how much their students have improved in Slovak language and literature, and in the future we are planning to analyse other subjects as well," the Minister of Education, Mr. Juraj Draxler explained.
In plain English, the amount of value-added in education is the difference between the actual and the expected average success rates in external part of the secondary school leaving exam (Maturita). The expected success rate corresponds to the average success in the external part of the Maturita exam of those schools, whose students had the same average success rate in the Testing 9 exam four years ago, taking into account the type of school and its other characteristics.
All secondary schools* that offer four-year secondary education in Slovak language and literature will be discreetly notified on their value-added in the Slovak Language and Literature by NÚCEM in June 2015. This information will allow schools to compare their students' progress in comparison with the average of all analysed schools. Informing schools on their value-added in education, Slovakia will become part of the group of progressive states in Europe as well as the USA in the field of school research. In neighbouring countries, such as in Poland, they have been informing the schools on their value-added in education for three years already, and in Hungary, the schools receive reports on value-added in literacies.
In the report on value-added in Slovak language and literature, each school will receive information in a graphic form of three traffic lights (one for each year) which indicate its inclusion in one of three categories. If the school reaches in the reporting period a value-added in the category above the expectations, it will be assigned green colour for that period. This means that the progress of students of this secondary school was significantly above average. If it reaches the value-added in line with the expectations, the traffic light will signal orange colour. The red traffic light will show up to schools with value-added below the expectations in the particular period. Such schools have a below-average progress of students. The expected success rate refers to the results of the particular generation, while the level of expectations for grammar schools, vocational schools and conservatories is different.
"In evaluation, the grammar schools were distinguished from other secondary schools with study programmes. Schools are evaluated within these two groups," the Director ad interim of NÚCEM, Mrs. Ivana Pichaničová said. "We had already initiated the value-added research in the previous national project 'Evaluation of the quality of education at primary and secondary schools in Slovakia in the context of ongoing content reform of education' (2010-2013). Linking the previous projects with the current project 'Increasing the quality of primary and secondary education with the use of electronic testing' allowed us to use the hierarchical model of value-added and objectify the findings, because researchers could work in calculating with the archive data for three generations of students who completed secondary school in 2013, 2014 and 2015," Pichaničová added.
NÚCEM will also publish a list of schools that were classified as "above expectations" during all three research periods, i.e. they had "green light" on all three traffic lights.
The school headmasters, who will receive the value-added in Slovak language and literature report to their email box, will be also provided with a feedback survey. NÚCEM will be interested in their reactions and opinions. The feedback from schools is really essential.
 "Some schools have reported no change in value-added. During the three years they were still either "green", "orange" or "red". In other cases, it happens that they do not see the same "signal" each year, i.e. each time they are in a different categpry. The headmasters and teachers should assess the reasons of variance, for example, if it was caused by a change of teacher or by the knowledge level of the students of the particular generation, or by other factors," the lead researcher, Mrs. Zuzana Juščáková describes.
In obtaining data in the national project "Increasing the quality of primary and secondary education with the use of electronic testing", 160 secondary schools in Slovakia were cooperating. 

* NÚCEM does not send information on value-added to those secondary schools, where students graduate from Slovak language and literature in the fifth grade. However, this information is sent to 8-year grammar schools in case they have students who took part in T9.